Take Part: Egg Donors Survey

By Christine |

Research and follow-up of egg donors has been pretty non-existent — until now. The Donor Sibling Registry, which connects and supports donor families, is conducting a survey of egg donors for the purpose of qualitative research on the long-term health effects on women.

DSR founder Wendy Kramer explains:

We at the Donor Sibling Registry are doing a study of former egg donors. Some of you may have registered on the Donor Sibling Registry and some of you have not yet, or do not intend on making yourself available for contact from families that may have used your eggs. Either way, our goal is to get a better understanding of how egg donation affects women as time goes on, as we know of no medical studies or formal research on this topic. Based on the replies, we hope to write an article for a scientific journal.

Your answers will be kept anonymous, as I will only share the collective data, and no one’s personal information. This information could be extremely valuable in pushing the medical community to further investigate how egg donation physically affects woman who donate. The questions should only take a few minutes to answer.

Go here to take the survey. Responses can be emailed directly to wendy.kramer@yahoo.com.

Plus: Our Bodies, Ourselves has published a collection of articles that examine whether and how the risks of egg donation have been underplayed, and what regulations are needed to better ensure that the long-term consequences of donation are better understood and that donors are provided the information they need to give informed consent.

And here you’ll find the comments of Jennifer Schneider, M.D., who appeared before a 2007 Congressional briefing on human egg trafficking and urged Congress to mandate egg donor registers. Schneider’s daughter donated three cycles of eggs and was diagnosed at age 29 with advanced colon cancer. She died two years later. Here’s an excerpt of Schneider’s remarks:

Her death was unexplained. When she was first diagnosed, the first thing she – and I – thought of was could it have been the large doses of hormones she received for the egg retrieval. Jessica asked her oncologist, who told her that there was no evidence supporting a role of ovarian hyperstimulation in causing colon cancer.

But last year I ran across an article by Dr. Kamal Ahuja, a specialist in in vitro fertilization (IVF), that described a young woman who donated eggs for her infertile sister, and a few years later was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and died. This got me thinking seriously about the possible role of ovarian stimulation in causing her colon cancer. I began doing a lot of reading, and communicating with specialists in the field. What I learned was very disturbing. Here is what I learned:

* Egg donors are commodities

* Long-term risks of egg donation are unknown.

* IVF clinics and researchers have a serious conflict of interest

* The government needs to intervene.

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4 Comments

  1. Margie says:

    I firmly believe that hormones in high doses do cause cancer. I think a lot of women who grow through fertility treatments should also be very cautious. I just read the history of the pill and how in the beginning it was so high in hormones that many women were getting very sick. Women taking estrogen for menopause also had many issues until it was regulated better.

  2. Kiki says:

    Marcy Darnovsky over at the Center for Genetics and Society has written a great post about the survey that has links to articles on the known risks of egg donation and the problems generated by the for-profit nature of the fertility business.

  3. Mrs Spock says:

    The post cited by Kiki has a link to a study that shows women like me who undergo infertility treatments do have a higher risk of estrogen related cancers, but not due to the treatments themselves, but because of the underlying causes of our infertility. Those of us who are infertile but decide not to undergo treatments to assist with pregnancy have the same higher risk as those of us who do.

    I wonder why there is no concern for women who are undergoing IVF as well. Many will undergo more stimulation and retrieval cycles than an egg donor will in her lifetime.