Egg donation requires an egg donor to take injectable fertility medications and have her eggs removed (egg retrieval). Is this a risk to her fertility? Initially, egg donors were infertility patients who agreed to split their eggs with a second or third recipient. Later, fertile women were recruited to become egg donors. Since that time, physicians have been concerned that the process of egg donation may impair the future fertility of these young women. In many cases, the women who agree to be egg donors are young, unmarried and have never had children or attempted to become pregnant before. It is important, therefore, to ensure, that these women are not harming their own fertility.
The risks of egg donation include the risks of using fertility drugs and the risk of the egg retrieval itself. Fertility drugs can induce ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome causing a small number of women to become sick enough to be hospitalized. The egg retrieval can very rarely cause an infection or bleeding. Infection could lead to the formation of an abscess and the need for surgery to remove infected tissue. Bleeding could lead to scar tissue which might impair the ability of the eggs to get into the fallopian tubes.
Egg Donor Study
A recent study identified 241 women who had participated as an egg donor at least once between 1992 and 2001. One hundred sixty-nine former egg donors were located. A questionnaire was sent to these egg donors and 93 of them completed and returned the surveys.
62 of the egg donors indicated that they had not attempted to become pregnant since the time of their egg donation nor had they had any unplanned pregnancies. In the remaining group of 31 egg donors, 26 attempted to conceive after donating. Within this group of 26 women, the following information was obtained:
- None of these women reported any delay in the time to achieve pregnancy.
- One half of the former egg donors were pregnant within three months.
- 84% of the former egg donors were pregnant within twelve months.
- Only 5 former egg donors (19%) reported a miscarriage after donating.
- Of the 5 former egg donors who had reported a miscarriage, 3 subsequently had become pregnant again and either delivered a baby or had an ongoing pregnancy at the time the survey was filled out.
- 28 of the 31 former egg donors reported a pregnancy after their donation.
The biggest problem encountered in trying to determine the fertility of egg donors is follow-up. Most women who donate eggs are young and unmarried. As such, they are actively attempting to prevent pregnancy. Even several years after donating eggs, many women in this survey still had no interest in trying to conceive.
Since the number of former egg donor studies is small, the conclusions may not be accurate. However, until further data shows otherwise, it can be stated that there does not appear to be any increase in the likelihood for an egg donor to become infertile after donating.