A thoughtful individual recently shared a Buzzfeed article “Why I Wish I Hadn’t Donated My Eggs” on one of our social media pages. We are truthfully thankful for her to post it. It’s evident that this writer had a very emotional experience about being an egg donor [at an agency unrelated to us]. She had egg donation regret, which is very unfortunate.
There are a few things to mention about this writer’s experience that we believe are necessary to highlight.
Most alarming is that the writer didn’t mention anything about consulting with a mental health professional BEFORE she decided to donate.
Psychological consultation is a mandatory requirement in our program, and we can’t stress how critical this requirement is. The mental health professionals on our team are tasked with responsibilities including, but not limited to, 1) fully informing donors of the potential emotions —both positive and negative — after they donate, 2) assessing emotional health, readiness, and mental competence to deem whether the donor is ready to move forward, and 3) understanding the donor’s motivations to donate — if the mental health professional believes the candidate is solely in it for the money, is desperate to seek reimbursement, etc. (as the writer in the article deems was her reason to donate), we will remove the candidate from becoming a donor. We carefully review the mental health professional’s assessment to consider whether the donor is emotionally ready to donate and is planning to donate for the right reasons (namely, to donate to help others). In turn, the donor also deliberates after the meeting w/ the mental health professional to figure out if she’s ready to take the next step. The decision is collaborative, and no donor goes into our program uninformed or unsure about the process. The last thing we want is for any donor to experience egg donation regret.
Perhaps if the writer in the article had talked about her concerns that she and her boyfriend had discussed with a mental health professional, proper intervention would have prevented her from moving forward.
Another point to highlight is the boyfriend’s recommendation for the writer to read the New York Times article on egg donation. This article discusses the lack of scientific evidence of the safety of egg donation. New York Times is, of course, a reputable source. However, it’s worth mentioning that this article is from 2009 and studies and assessments since then have indicated those who donate eggs are at increased risk for experiencing infertility issues, cancer, or premature menopause. “There are no long-term adverse risks of IVF or egg donation,” said Richard J. Paulson, past president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), which is the governing body of reproductive medicine and represents fertility specialists.
This writer also indicates she has had gynecological issues post donation, including endometrial scar tissue and abnormal pap smears. She suspects it’s more than a coincidence that she had these issues post-donation. But, she stated “medical professionals are quick to tell me there’s zero way of knowing whether assisted reproduction could be any sort of culprit.” She also said her search on the internet and consultation with other donors revealed the same response as we mentioned above: “there is no medical evidence of any long-term risks.” Despite receiving the same consistent response from trusted professionals and peers, however, this writer remained dubious. The reality is that there are many reasons, unrelated to egg donation and backed by scientific evidence, that cause issues such as scar tissue and abnormal pap smears. Prolonged use of an IUD, infections of the endometrium, and surgical procedures involving the uterus (such as removal of fibroids) may cause endometrial scar tissue. HPV, trichomoniasis, other STDs, infections, or even false positive test results contribute to abnormal paps. Simply put, just because a donor experiences complications later on in life, it doesn’t mean that the reason was that she donated her eggs- there are a ton of other reasons that may be at play.
With that said, as with any other medical procedure, there is the rare chance of a medical complication occurring. However, they occur in less than 1% of individuals. Furthermore, we are one of the largest and most experienced egg banks in the world. Part of our success is because we take extreme care of our donors and monitor them very carefully to prevent any complications from occurring.
Final point, but not the last. This writer discusses how she was tossed aside by the agency. They puffed her sense of self-worth before donating only to ignore her post-donation. Our program is different. We build relationships with our donors and treat them like family, before and after the donation. The writer also goes on to say she persevered to ask what happened with the recipient who used her eggs. She was emotionally traumatized to learn the recipient conceived triplets, but miscarried two of them. Undoubtedly, this is devastating. Egg donation regret can be inevitable. This is why our program keeps the process anonymous (with the exception of ID Option donors, who receive additional counseling and agree to release their contact information to the donor-conceived child, once that child reaches the age of 18). Donors won’t know who used their eggs, and recipients won’t know the identity of the donor. Otherwise, the donor can become too attached and suffer emotional trauma if such an outcome like miscarriages occurs.
At the end of the day, there will be great personal stories about egg donation. On occasion, there will also be negative ones of egg donation regret. We do ask for all donors to conduct thorough research. See which stories resonate most with them, though we’ll also consult the donors carefully and give them the information they need to decide whether egg donation is for them.
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