Becoming an Egg Donor: Are There Medical Risks to Being An Egg Donor?

Becoming an egg donor is life-changing, for both you and the parents you’re helping.

Doing your research is critical when it comes deciding if being an egg donor is right for you. You should spend time researching the egg donor process and requirements, egg donor agencies and the type of egg donation you’d like to do (known egg donation vs anonymous).

Many women have questions around the medications and medical risks as an egg donor. Circle spoke with Dr. Mark Leondires, the Founder, Medical Director and Partner in reproductive endocrinology at Reproductive Medical Associates of Connecticut (RMA-CT) and Rachel Leto, a third party nurse at RMA-CT for answers to the top questions potential egg donors have.

Will egg donation affect my future fertility?

Egg donation is considered safe and has a very low chance of affecting your future fertility. At birth, every female has hundreds of thousands of eggs, which is more than they would need throughout their reproductive years to successfully have children. When you donate your eggs, they are the eggs that were available that month of your cycle; they are not the eggs that will be used when you are ready to try for your own family. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) states that a woman can donate a maximum amount of 6 cycles in their lifetime.

Is egg donation safe? Are there medical risks? Are there side effects?

Egg donation, like any other medical procedure, could potentially have complications. The daily blood tests and hormone injections are usually well tolerated. However, some women can experience local discomfort, redness or minor bruising at the injection site; breast tenderness and tenderness in the ovaries; fluid retention/bloating; moodiness; and Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). The risk of bleeding complications or infection are 0.1-0.2% (less than 1/500).

The most common side effects of the retrieval procedure are bloating, cramping, and some minor nausea and diarrhea. These symptoms usually resolve 7-14 days after the retrieval.

What medications will I have to take? How long will I be taking them?

Medication protocols are tailored to the individual patient. It is usually a combination of 2-3 injections per night. These are subcutaneous injections with a small needle that cause very little discomfort.

You will be on these medications for about 8-12 days prior to the egg retrieval procedure.

Is there anything I can’t do during the egg donation process?

It’s important to refrain from intercourse, alcohol, smoking, and illegal drug use during your donation cycle.

During and after your active egg retrieval cycle, it is important to avoid aggressive exercising. Once you get your period following the egg donation cycle, it is safe to resume normal activity.

Are there injections? Do they hurt?

Yes, there are injections and they cause very little discomfort.

What can I expect at the egg retrieval? Will I be awake? Will I feel it?

The egg retrieval procedure takes about 30 minutes. The doctor will aspirate your follicles using an ultrasound guided needle. There is anesthesia used, which means you will be asleep during the procedure. You will not remember or feel anything during the procedure. It is important that you have a friend or family member bring you to and from your egg retrieval since you won’t be able to drive due to the anesthesia. The day after the retrieval you can resume normal activity (go back to work and/or school) with the exception of exercise and heavy lifting.

Hopefully we’ve answered your questions about the medical side of egg donation. There is an emotional side to egg donation as well, and the Circle team is more than happy to answer questions or speak with you prior to applying. You can reach the egg donation team at: [email protected]

If you’re ready to apply, you can start your application here.