Egg Donation: Health Risks & Safety Data

Our Bodies Ourselves is concerned about the lack of safety data — especially long-term safety data — regarding the health risks egg donors may face.

What does it mean for a young woman’s future fertility or her longer term risk of cancer and other health problems if she provides eggs repeatedly, especially within a short period of time? We simply don’t know enough — and this means that young women still do not have the information they need to make evidence-based choices or give truly informed consent.

In addition, there are known potential side effects and risks that are not mentioned in ads for egg donors. Some women who take drugs to stimulate egg production report mild or moderate reactions such as bloating, abdominal pain, or mood swings. The more potentially serious medical issues include ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which causes the ovaries to become swollen and painful. Severe OHSS can cause a dangerous build-of of fluid in the the abdomen and chest.

What Can You Do?

Send in Egg Donor Ads
Columbia University egg donor adAds for egg donors — such as the one on the right — are especially prevalent on college campuses and in other spaces where they are likely to be seen by college-age women.

Please send in ads (or photos of ads) you come across, and indicate the source. We’ll ask the publication or venue to publish another ad inviting young women to learn more about the Infertility Family Research Registry, a volunteer registry based at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center that collects health data from egg donors.

You can use the submission form or the office mailing address available on OBOS’s contact page.

Are You an Egg Donor? Register with the IFRR
If you are a donor, please participate in the volunteer Infertility Family Research Registry at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center so more data is made available. (For more information, read Raquel Cool’s post on creating a support group for egg donors and the push for more safety data.)

The private registry collects information about your health — you enter data when you first register and you can update it periodically. The registry also works by providing you the opportunity to volunteer for additional studies that interest you.

The registry was created for egg donors and sperm donors, as well as people who have had, or are having, difficulty conceiving a pregnancy or carrying a pregnancy to live birth (and those who haven’t, to serve as study controls), people who have undergone fertility treatment, and gestational carriers/surrogates.

Participate in Research on Egg Donors and Breast Cancer
Jennifer Schneider, M.D., a Tucson-based internist whose own daughter, an egg donor, died of colon cancer, has made it her mission to encourage the follow-up of egg donors to determine whether there are long-term risks to their health. Currently she is researching a possible connection between hormonal ovarian stimulation of egg donors and subsequent diagnosis of breast cancer. She is seeking premenopausal women who were diagnosed with breast cancer following egg donation. If you or someone you know fits this description, please contact Dr. Schneider at iamjessica2 [AT]

Support the Petition for a National Egg Donor Health Registry
This petition, started by OBOS, the Alliance for Humane Biotechnology, Pro Choice Alliance for Responsible Research, and the Center for Genetics and Society, demonstrates to state and national policy makers the importance of implementing a privacy-ensured national registry to facilitate long-term health tracking. It also encourages long-term studies to better understand the health risks, particularly with respect to the impact of drugs used for both suppression and stimulation of the ovaries.

In addition, the petition urges that advertisements and notices seeking egg donors be required to state that long-term health risks of egg harvesting procedures are unknown. Add your signature today.