Egg Donor Risks and Complications

Generally speaking, egg donation is a relatively straightforward procedure. However, like any medical process, there are risks and side-effects involved. Before you start, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss all these risks with your fertility doctor, and remember, we’re here to answer any questions that you might have.

Possible risks include:

  • Anesthesia. We use anesthesia during the egg retrieval process, and any use of anesthesia carries a slight risk. These will be explained to you during a consultation with your anesthesiologist.
  • Antibiotics. Any dose of antibiotics can present the risk of possible allergic reaction, in some cases severe. However, this is very rare.
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  • Fertility drugs. The hormones you take may cause a few side-effects, such as mood change, slight weight gain, stomach pressure, headaches and allergic reaction. A possible link between fertility drugs and ovarian cancer has been suggested, but not proven.
  • Inconvenience. There are times when the egg stimulation phase and retrieval process can get a little tricky. Please be prepared for a certain amount of inconvenience and lost time – it’s all part of the process!
  • Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). In really rare instances (5% in any cycle) hyper stimulation of the ovaries can cause them to become enlarged, which means there’s an increased risk of blood clots forming, which may require hospitalization.
    In really rare cases, this can cause fluid to accumulate on the lungs or abdomen, and could cause kidney failure or stroke. In rare cases, the ovary may rupture, which is likely then to require major surgery with all associated risks.
    Loss of one or both ovaries is possible. This risk is minimized if the egg retrieval process proceeds when planned. The risk increases if you choose not to undergo the retrieval process after taking the medication to stimulate your ovaries. There’s also a small possibility of a lasting effect on your pelvic organs, such as pain, irregular menstruation or problems with future fertility. However, please be assured – these are all very minor risks, particularly if you follow the doctor’s advice.
  • Phlebotomy. When you have a blood test, there may be mild discomfort and a small risk of developing a bruise. However, this is usually only temporary and quickly forgotten!
  • Psychological distress. The egg donation process can be emotional – for all involved. However, psychological distress can very occasionally occur with assisted reproductive technology procedures. If you feel extremely emotionally upset during the process, tell us immediately, and we’ll do our best to help you.
  • Risk of pregnancy. Oh yes – it could happen to you as well as your recipient! Since it’s possible that not all of the developed eggs will be recovered at retrieval, there’s a small risk you might get pregnant if you engage in unprotected intercourse around this time. Also, please be aware, you’ll be more fertile the month after the procedure too. After all, your ovaries have essentially become super-charged!
  • Ultrasound guided egg retrieval. After the egg retrieval process, you might experience mild to moderate discomfort. Potentially serious complications include bleeding, infection, injury to the bowel or injury to the blood vessels. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damage to internal organs or to control internal bleeding.

Do remember, all these risks are fairly minor, and providing you follow the correct procedure as explained by the doctor, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll encounter any major problems. If you’re worried, you know where to call – we’re here to help.