Donating Eggs: What Are The Risks?
If you are thinking of donating eggs, it is crucial that you understand the risks involved in egg donation. Fortunately, there are not many risks involved in the process of donating eggs, and the risks that do exist can be managed or reduced significantly.
In this article, we take a look at what the risks entail and how you can manage any risk.
Donating eggs is low risk
Since the world’s first pregnancy achieved with donated eggs in Australia in the 80s, egg donation has become a routine treatment at fertility clinics around the world. Hundreds of thousands of egg donors worldwide have safely completed the donation process.
Not only has the egg donation procedure proven to be safe over many years, the last three decades have also seen many advances in the medical technology, such as ultrasound to name just one, that facilitates safe and painless egg donation with no cutting, stitches or scarring.
Nevertheless, egg donation is a medical procedure and all medical procedures carry some risk. Below are a list of the possible risks and how we manage these risks for our donors at Cape Fertility, where we have a leading egg donation program. We have been leaders in egg donation for 25 years and have assisted in thousands of safe egg donations.
What are the risks of donating eggs?
The egg donation process involves hormone treatments that are designed to stimulate egg maturation. Egg donors take this medication through injections that are self-administered.
This medication underlies the primary risk in egg donation: a condition called Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). OHSS is a result off the ovary producing too many eggs in response to the stimulation medication and becoming enlarged. Fluid may collect in the abdominal cavity causing bloating and pelvic pain.
Fortunately, OHSS is relatively rare – around 1% of IVF cases. Most donors experience no side effects at all while on this medication. Some donors may experience PMS type symptoms like bloating, moodiness or pelvic discomfort, but any side effects will disappear when you stop taking the medication.
Nevertheless, while you are taking the medication when you donate at Cape Fertility, our medical experts will perform regular scans, to ensure your safety and manage your risk closely.
While egg donation is an extremely safe procedure with very little risk, as with any medical procedure there is a risk of bleeding, infection or anaesthetic complications.
Before you donate eggs at Cape Fertility, you will have a 2-hour appointment with one of our fertility specialists and our psychologist. The full egg donation procedure will be explained to you and you will have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have and to discuss any concerns. During your appointment, you will also have a detailed medical examination, including routine investigations and a psychological assessment.
Your egg donation (retrieval) at Cape Fertility is performed by one of our fertility specialist doctors. Egg retrieval day will require that you take a full day off work or your daily activities and arrangements will be made for someone to take you home after the procedure.
At Cape Fertility, we use a mild general anaesthetic and you will sleep during the procedure which takes about 30 minutes and is completed with ultrasound guidance using a vaginal ultrasound and a fine needle. You will not experience any pain during the procedure – there is no cutting, stitches or scarring.
After the procedure, you will stay in recovery for about 1 hour before going home. Some donors experience some discomfort similar to that experienced with a period, for which normal pain relief medication can be taken. Linda – our Egg Donor Fairy God Mother – and our team will remain in constant contact with you. About 5 to 14 days later, you will have a period.
As an egg donor, it is extremely important that you be assured that the clinic at which you donate is a world-class medical facility, dedicated to your care and medical safety.
During every step of your egg donation cycle at Cape Fertility, you will be cared for by a specialist medical team of fertility specialists, qualified nursing sisters, our resident psychologist and our dedicated egg donor co-ordinator, Linda. This team has been caring for egg donors’ emotional and medical needs for many years and have safely completed thousands of treatments.
Egg donation is legal in South Africa and we also have amongst the best egg donation laws in the world. In South Africa, the legislation on egg donation is published in Chapter 8 of the National Health Act (Act no 61 of 2003) and protects you – the donor, as well as the recipient.
In addition to strict adherence to the law, Cape Fertility is also a leader in the ethical requirements for egg donation, as set out by both the Department of Health and South African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG).
In South Africa, egg donation is anonymous and confidential by law. You do not have to be concerned that anyone, including the recipient of your egg donation, or anyone else, will ever know your name or details. Egg donors and recipients never have access to other’s details and never meet.
At Cape Fertility, we never disclose your personal details, your adult photos or your name. This means there is no chance that your – or the recipient’s – identities will become known at any time in the future.
Your future responsibility
It is important to realise that if a pregnancy is achieved and carried to term using your donated eggs, the child conceived is not yours, but the recipient’s legal and biological child. Legally, a donor egg baby is the legal child of the birth mother and you – as an egg donor – do not have any responsibility now or in future.
Remember that the egg donated is fertilised with sperm from the recipient’s partner before being placed in her uterus, where the fetus grows, taking its required fluids and nourishment from the mother’s blood via the placenta for 40 weeks. It is the pregnant mother’s flesh and blood that results in the baby’s flesh and blood – and she is the child’s biological and legal mother.
Your own fertility
Women are born with approximately 2 million eggs. Each month you ovulate and, unless an egg/s are fertilised, the eggs are removed from your body as part of your monthly period. These are eggs that you would not have used, and they are discarded. During an egg donation, approximately 10 to 20 eggs that would have been discarded are retrieved to be donated to a woman in need.
There is no proven evidence that donating eggs affects your own long-term fertility. Follow-up studies among donors have shown that the fertility of egg donors is not affected. Our egg donors go on to have children of their own if and when they decide.
Find out more about the risks of donating eggs
At Cape Fertility, our Egg Donor Fairy God Mother, Linda, is ready to answer any questions you may have about the risks you might face when donating eggs. Linda has many years of experience supporting egg donors and a wealth of information to share. She will gladly answer your questions and guide you further in giving the gift of a lifetime.
Simply fill in your contact details here, or contact Linda on 066 22 55 003 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your information is 100% confidential and will under no circumstances be made available to anybody else.