Becoming an Egg Donor is a very powerful and beautiful endeavor! For thousands of men and women around the world, an egg donor is their only chance to start the family they’ve always dreamed of.
For those who are seriously considering becoming egg donors, there are many questions to ask, especially when it comes to the side effects that can occur during the donation process.
Being an egg donor has some incredible rewards, but you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons to be sure it’s right for you. At Family Source, we make sure that all our egg donors fully understand the entire donation process before they commit. Each donor is required to complete our Egg Donor webinar, which explains all of the steps of the egg donation process.
Most of the side effects of the egg donation process are minor, but it’s important to understand all of the risks involved.
Here’s a breakdown of the common – and uncommon – side effects of egg donation.
Understanding the egg donation process
Preparing your body for egg donation means that you will have to alter your normal hormone cycle. This involves taking a series of fertility drugs that stimulate your ovaries to produce more eggs than usual. You’ll also undergo an egg retrieval process to retrieve your eggs, and there will be several blood tests along the way.
The egg donor treatment cycle involves several stages, including:
- Pre-treatment tests and preparation
- Preparation of ovaries and uterus
- Follicle growth stimulation (by injection)
- Timing of ovulation (based on blood tests and ultrasounds)
- Egg collection
As you’d expect, some of these procedures are comparable with the risks of elective surgery. The doctor handling your egg donation process will discuss each step in more detail, but be sure to ask questions as you move forward!
Common side effects during the egg donation process
You’ll need to have several injections throughout the procedure, including blood tests and administering fertility drugs. These injections can be a little uncomfortable and can sometimes leave a small bruise or redness at the site.
Side effects of fertility drugs
Fertility drugs are essentially your own hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Taking more of these hormones at the right time helps trigger ovulation, which is crucial for the egg donation process. Of course, higher amounts of hormones in the body can have other effects on your body – kind of like PMS. The most common side effects of fertility drugs are moderate weight gain, irritability, mood swings, tender breasts, bloating, and headaches.
In rare cases, fertility drugs may lead to Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS), in which too many eggs develop in the ovaries. There’s a five percent chance of OHSS occurring in any cycle.
The good news is that these extra hormones are naturally flushed out of the body as part of your natural detoxification process. Any symptoms you may experience will pass within a few weeks after the fertility treatment ends.
Your eggs will be retrieved under ultrasound guidance using a probe with a fine needle. The retrieval takes around 20-30 minutes, and you’ll be under sedation throughout.
It’s common to experience some cramping and discomfort after egg retrieval, like an average period cramp. Most women find this discomfort relieved with a heat pack, hot water bottle, or mild pain relief. You may also notice some vaginal spotting or bleeding. The anesthesia can also leave you feeling drowsy.
There’s also a risk of getting pregnant if you have unprotected sex during the donation cycle. Since not all developed eggs will be retrieved, you will still be “fertile” during the post-retrieval period.
Uncommon side effects of egg donation
It’s rare, but OHSS can increase the risk of blood clots, which can mean hospitalization. There have also been a few cases in which women have developed fluid in the abdomen or lungs, kidney failure, or a ruptured ovary as a result of OHSS. This risk is increased if you take fertility drugs but decide not to go ahead with the egg retrieval.
The egg retrieval itself also poses risks. The uncommon side effects that can occur include infection, prolonged bleeding, and injury to the bowel or blood vessels. In extremely rare circumstances, there may be damage to the internal organs.
Other uncommon complications include ovarian torsion, which occurs when an enlarged ovary is twisted, causing severe pain in your abdominal area. Avoiding vigorous exercise or other activities that may involve your midsection helps to minimize any risk of this occurring.
It’s also worth mentioning that third-party reproductive procedures can be a little stressful for some women and may lead to psychological distress when things don’t go as planned. It is important to have a strong support network when undergoing the procedure.
Finally, every donor should know that there is a lack of definitive research regarding the long-term risks of egg donation. Many third-party reproductive procedures are still relatively new; however, there have been no links found between egg donation procedures and the risk of serious health issues.
As we mentioned before, many of these side effects are rare or at least uncommon. In fact, the majority of donors go through the egg donation process without any problems at all. There are many ways to minimize the risk of side effects by looking after your body, avoiding strenuous activity, and maintaining a healthy diet.
Get more information about becoming an egg donor
If you’d like to know more about what to expect during the egg donation process, our friendly team at Family Souce Consultants will be happy to chat with you! Submit a request for information today!