Egg Donor :: Potential Risk Factors

Most egg donors go through the egg donation process with minimal side affects. Of these side effects reported, most were not severe enough to dissuade a woman from considering a future donation.

However, as is with any medical procedure there are risk factors associated with donating your eggs. It is very important that you take the time to read and fully understand potential risks you are exposing yourself to. The possible risks outlined in this page are for informational purposes only and as such it is imperative that you discuss in depth the possible risks with your doctor.

The long term side effects of egg donation has not yet been fully confirmed but ongoing studies continue in effort to substantiate the risks involved with egg donation.

Here are some of the outlined risks you should be aware of:

Moodiness

You are likely to experience an increase in irritability or moodiness due to the change in your hormones.

Headaches

Headaches are usually a side effect of the ovulation suppression medications. You can take Tylenol to ease your headaches but are strongly advised not to take Excedrin or other caffeine containing pain relievers. You are always advised to avoid ibuprofen or other anti inflammatory over the counter medications.

Bloating

You can expect abdominal bloating during the latter phases of your follicle stimulation and significantly during the few days following egg retrieval. Your bloating will decrease within the weeks following the egg retrieval.

Weight Gain

You can expect to gain 2-7 pounds during your stimulation cycle which will decrease after the egg retrieval procedure. You can look forward to returning to your normal weight after a few weeks.

Bruising at the sight of the injection

You are advised to switch sides and injection points on your abdomen or thigh to reduce epidermal (surface) bruising.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

OHSS is the result too much stimulation of the ovaries resultant from administration of fertility medication and occurs post oocyte release. In OHSS the ovaries suddenly become exceedingly swollen and fluid can leak into your chest cavity or belly area. In findings reported to the ASRM, OHSS is associated with approximately 1% of Assisted Reproduction cycles. The incidence and severity of OHSS may in fact be lower in oocyte donors, in part due to the absence of conception in their stimulated cycles*.

Your doctor will monitor your hormone levels by blood draws as well as your follicular growth by vaginal ultrasound on a daily to bi-daily basis during your follicle stimulation phase. S/he will then adjust medicinal dosages accordingly to aggressively prevent Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. While this significantly reduces the possibility it cannot entirely prevent it. In some cases increased hormones or ovary size may warrant enough concern to cause cycle cancellation.

Less severe cases of OHSS (more common) will go away on their own and significantly improve after a woman has had her period. These cases can commonly be treated with rest and leg elevation accompanied by minimal activity and adequate hydration with water or electrolytes. Staying hydrated is especially imperative after your retrieval procedure as the risk of OHSS is most signifigant in the three days following retrieval.

If hospitalization is needed doctors will remove fluid collected in your ovaries and/or other affected areas if necessary. In addition they will hydrate your system with intravenous fluids.

Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive weight gain of 4-5 pounds or more per day
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe Abdominal Pain that decreases mobility
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
Ovarian Torsion

Ovarian Torsion occurs when the ovary twists and cuts off blood supply to itself. It occurs in less than .03% of patients, with 20% of these cases being in pregnant women. The risk usually increases in probability with OHSS. If not diagnosed and treated early on Ovarian Torsion can result in reduced functionality of that ovary or in more severe cases, removal of the affected ovary. Early detection and treatment usually produce favorable results.

The symptoms of Ovarian Torsion are characterized by sudden severe pain in the lower abdomen that can spread to the back, sides and thigh. These symptoms may also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting although this is not persistent in all cases. If these or similar symptoms are experienced it is imperative to seek the help of a medical professional if for no other reason than to rule its possibility out.

The risk of Ovarian Torsion is increased with physical activity so it is important to stick to minimal activity during the follicle stimulation phase as well as up until the onset of a normal period.

Organ Damage

During the egg retrieval procedure there is a slight risk that the doctor could nip the bladder or other surrounding organs but are usually not significant enough to cause major damage.

Infection or Internal Bleeding

As a risk associated with any internal invasive procedures, you may encounter infection or internal bleeding.

Cancer

Cancer is currently being studied as a potential risk of IVF procedures, but as of current no increased significance has been given to the correlation between egg donation and the risk of cancer.

*Fertillity and Sterility┬« Vol. 90, Suppl 3, November 2008, Copyright ┬ę2008 American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Published by Elsevier, Inc.

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