Many young women on the verge of becoming egg donors have two main questions, “Will this impact my health long term?” and, “Will I be able to have my own children later?”
The answers here are reassuring. Egg donation will not impact your future fertility, and there is no evidence that it will cause long-term health complications for you, either.
Despite these facts, a quick trip to the Internet can leave you concerned that there may be long-term health issues that experts are unaware of, due to a lack of long-term monitoring. The truth is that there is no such thing as an “egg donor registry” to track for long-term health implications of donation, but this is not the result of negligence. Such a list is simply not needed. Here’s why.
The FDA treats egg donation similarly to organ donation. In this way, many find it surprising that there exists no registry of egg donors that tracks their long-term health. The thought of those wanting such a registry is that, without long-term tracking, experts have no way of ensuring long-term health and any potential ill effects from the act of donating eggs.
Doctors have been monitoring the impacts of IVF on women for years. This includes samples of women in every age bracket, those with and without fertility issues, and even in women who carry genes linked to increased cases of breast cancer. The result, across the board, is that there is no increased risk of cancer development as a result of hormone treatments related to IVF. Since IVF procedures completed on intended mothers mirror those used on prospective egg donors almost exactly, the call for study on egg donors is unwarranted. The data would not be different from what is already monitored, and it could only be obtained at the loss of anonymity of donors.
We understand that the vast majority of prospective egg donors wish to remain anonymous. If egg donors became required to reveal their identities by way of a registry, this could greatly reduce the number of women willing to become donors. Additionally, the bureaucratic costs of creating and maintaining an active registry are prohibitive. To impose a registry would very likely increase the cost of acquiring an egg donor for intended parents as well as reduce the compensation available to donors. This, again, could result in fewer women willing to take part and a greater difficulty funding the process for those who are seeking an egg donor.
Finally, egg donation is not medically like organ donation. Though treated similarly to organ donation for tax purposes, medically, it more closely resembles bone marrow donation. In both procedures, the patient takes hormone injections to stimulate cell production in preparation for a minor surgical procedure. During the procedure, doctors extract cells from the patient using a needle. To date, there have been no long-term consequences linked to cell donation. As a result, no bone marrow donation registry exists.
All this is not to say that egg donation is not without risks. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and ovarian torsion are both legitimate concerns. The difference is that both of these conditions tend to present immediately, or at least within the first several weeks, following the procedure. These potential complications are also quite rare and occurring less and less frequently as reproductive medicine continues to evolve and fine-tune its process. So long as doctors watch donors through this short recovery period, the odds of developing any long-term ill effects from their donation are slim to none.
If you have more questions about the long-term implications of donation, don’t be afraid to speak with your case or admissions specialist. They’ll listen to your concerns, and provide you with medically based research that can help you make the best decision for your body and your future in egg donation.