The risks

If you think you want to be an egg donor it's important you know exactly what's involved, so you're able to make an informed decision. Generally, the risks of egg donation are low, but your clinic is always ready to discuss every aspect of donation in detail.


Becoming an egg donor doesn't have any impact on your future ability to have children. Each month a group of eggs begin the maturation process, but the body only selects one to ovulate. Fertility medications "rescue" some of the excess eggs that the body would have ordinarily discarded.

I first decided I wanted to become an egg donor when I was in my mid-twenties. A friend of mine, a woman the same age as me, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of the high level of treatment involved, she was faced with the prospect of never being able to have children naturally. I thought it would be a wonderful thing to donate my eggs, so that someone else who has suffered distress and pain would be able to have what they so desired. The procedure itself is very quick, and the discomfort afterwards lasted a couple of days, and felt very much like having bad period pains. Egg donation is a very worthwhile, and rewarding thing to do.
Oxford Fertility Egg donor

Screening

During the screening step, we test blood and urine samples. If we find any medical condition you didn't know about already, a doctor will be available to discuss any implications, and you will have the option to speak to a counsellor. With your permission we may also involve your GP.

If screening detects a bacterial infection it can usually be treated easily with antibiotics. In rare cases, if a viral disease is present, you may not be able to donate your eggs.

Stimulation phase

The purpose of the stimulation phase is to prepare your eggs for collection. This involves daily injections to stop your usual egg release and to stimulate your ovaries.

As with any injection, these can sometimes cause:

  • Local irritation at the injection site, which usually clears up quickly.
  • Under- or over-response to the injections. If this happens we may need to change the dose in your treatment plan. You'll be closely monitored with scans and perhaps also some blood tests.
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This is a very specific condition that in most cases is mild, resulting in abdominal discomfort and swelling, nausea and diarrhoea. It doesn't usually require any treatment, but can be uncomfortable for a couple of weeks after injections are stopped.
  • Your clinic will tell you more about your risk of hyperstimulation once you have completed your screening tests.
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Egg collection phase

Collecting your eggs involves a minor operation, for which you will be sedated with an intravenous injection. This is a low risk procedure, but possible side effects include:

  • Infection. If your consultant thinks it necessary, you will be given antibiotics after egg collection to prevent this.
  • Bleeding. Some light bleeding after an egg collection is normal, but if you experience anything heavier you will be monitored.
  • Very occasional damage to other pelvic organs like the bladder.
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Post-donation

On very rare occasions a baby born with the help of egg donation may be found to have an inherited genetic condition that you didn't already know about. You should give some thought to how you might feel if this were to happen to you. If you would want to know this information, you can let the clinic know when you sign the HFEA consent forms.