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What Are the Risks of Donating Eggs?

By J.D. Wollf ; Updated June 13, 2017

Donating eggs for an infertile woman, couple, or for an egg donation center can be an emotionally and financially fulfilling process. Strict screening rules mean that egg donation isn't for every woman, though, and even if you are able to donate eggs, there are risks to the process that you should be aware of before you make the decision to donate. Egg donation can be difficult, both emotionally and physically. There are also practical legal and monetary considerations that should come into play when choosing an egg donation program.

Risk of Life Disruption

Before agreeing to donate eggs, consider how much disruption the process will cause to your daily life. Besides self-administering injections of fertility drugs, egg donors must attend doctor appointments for blood tests and ultrasounds. These appointments must be scheduled around, or interrupt, classes or work hours. Egg donors also have to stop drinking, smoking and having unprotected sex. They may also have to stop taking both nonprescription and prescription drugs. What would usually be a quick visit to the pharmacy for some cold medicine may involve a doctor's go-ahead for an egg donor. This disruption can lead to stress and emotional exhaustion.

Physical Risks

While egg donation may be physically uncomfortable, it's generally not dangerous. However, there can be complications. There may be bruising or hemorrhaging of the ovary caused by the needle used to retrieve the eggs. Fertility drugs can cause a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). According to, about 10 percent of egg donors develop OHSS. Women with OHSS experience bloating and and digestive upset. In severe cases of OHSS, so much fluid may collect in the abdomen that the fluid will need to be physically removed. These cases are very rare. The needle used to retrieve eggs from the ovaries can cause bleeding and can, in rare cases, puncture other organs by mistake.

Monetary Risks

Most egg donation programs will pay for the donor's medical expenses in full. However, some programs may expect the donor to pay some of the costs herself, through her own insurance or through short-term insurance provided by the program. Make sure that you know how much of the cost your program expects you to pay. Egg donors should also find out rules of payment, such as whether the program pays for costs if a fertility cycle has to be stopped before eggs are harvested. When you donate eggs without reading the fine print, you may receive less money than you expect for your time or troubles.

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