Egg Donor Risks and Possible Complications

Prior to beginning a donor egg cycle, you should discuss all potential risks and side effects of egg donation with your fertility physician.
There are several risks and side effects that may be associated with the egg donation process. In addition, there may be additional risks that have not been identified yet. Identified risks are:

• Anesthesia – Anesthesia is a necessary part of the egg retrieval process. Any use of anesthesia carries some risk. The risks associated with anesthesia will be explained during a consultation with an anesthesiologist.

• Antibiotics – Any dose of antibiotics carries the risk of possible allergic reaction. In rare cases, this may be severe.

• Fertility Drugs – The hormones you take may cause moderate weight gain, mood changes, stomach pressure, headaches, and allergic reaction. An association between fertility drugs and ovarian cancer has been suggested but not proven.

• Inconvenience – The monitoring procedures during the stimulation phase and the time needed to perform the egg retrieval itself will result in a certain amount of inconvenience and lost time.

• Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) In very rare cases, (5% in any cycle), hyperstimulation of the ovaries may lead to enlarged ovaries and an increased chance of blood clots that requires hospitalization. In very rare cases, it may also lead to the fluid in the abdomen or lungs, kidney failure, or stroke. In extremely rare cases, an enlarged ovary may rupture. A ruptured ovary may necessitate general anesthesia and major surgery, with all the inherited risks. Loss of one or both ovaries is possible. The risk of OHSS is minimized if the egg retrieval proceeds when planned. The risk increases if you choose not to undergo the egg retrieval process after taking the fertility medications to stimulate your ovaries. There is an unlikely possibility of a lasting effect on your pelvic organs: including pain, irregular menstrual function, or impairment of future fertility.

• Phlebotomy- There may be mild discomfort and some risk of developing a bruise when blood is drawn, similar to when blood is drawn for any other reason.

• Psychological Distress – The egg donation process can be emotional. Psychological distress can be associated with assisted reproductive technology procedures.

• Risk of Pregnancy – Since it is possible that not all of the developed eggs will be recovered at the time of retrieval, there is a risk that you may become pregnant if you engage in unprotected intercourse any time during the egg donation cycle(s). You will also be more fertile in the month after donation.

• Torsion – The twisting of an enlarged ovary can result in the sudden onset of severe abdominal pain. This may occur during exercise or other agitating movement.

• Ultrasound Examinations – no known risks, minimal discomfort.

• Ultrasound Guided Egg Retrieval – You may experience mild to moderate discomfort after the procedure. Potentially serious complications include bleeding, infection, and injury to the bowel or blood vessels. In extremely rare circumstances, surgery may be necessary to repair damage to internal organs or to control significant internal bleeding (i.e., hemorrhage).

 Potential Long Term Risks – no definitive studies have demonstrated any link between egg donation and infertility, cancer, or any other significant long-term health problems. Since egg donation is a relatively new procedure, we hope to learn more about the long-term effects of donor eggs in the future when additional research becomes available.