You’re thinking about donating your eggs, and you feel good about helping others longing for a child. But at the same time you may be worried about the impact of egg donation on your own future family. Will you be left with enough eggs to have your own child someday? Will the egg donation process affect your fertility and ability to have a child of your own? At Fairfax EggBank, we take our egg donors’ concerns seriously; let’s go over some questions and answers about egg donation and your fertility.
Will donating eggs reduce my own egg supply quicker?
No, this is a common misconception. First, let’s talk about how your body normally produces eggs. You are born with their lifetime supply of eggs— about one to two million! When you reach puberty, your ovaries have around 400,000 eggs. Every menstrual cycle, about 15-20 eggs mature inside the follicles inside your ovaries. However, usually only one follicle reaches maturity and releases an egg for ovulation. The rest stop growing and are discarded by your body.
When you go through the process of donating eggs, you’ll receive medication to fully develop all of the eggs in your follicles that are naturally available in that particular cycle. In short, no more eggs are removed than what your body naturally puts out.
I see stories in the media about some egg donors having issues with conceiving after donating. How valid are these stories?
First and foremost, infertility is a disease we wish for no one to experience, and we feel for these egg donors.
However, there are a couple of things to note:
- Infertility has many complex causes. If a donor experiences infertility later on in life, it doesn’t prove that egg donation is to blame.
- There are no studies proving positive correlation between egg donation and infertility. The process egg donors go through is identical to the process that infertile women undergo when they attempt IVF, or freeze their own eggs for future use. “There are no long-term adverse risks of IVF” or egg donation, said Richard J. Paulson, president-elect of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the governing body of Reproductive Medicine.
Too often, regardless if the topic is focused on egg donation or any other topic, the media tends to focus on the negative stories, especially negative donor egg experiences. When doing your research, make sure to ask yourself how scientific the story is – and of course, if you ever need an objective perspective, ask us to look into the article further.
What about complications that can occur during an egg donation cycle? Can they lead to infertility?
As with most medical procedures, there are some risks, but they are very rare (which we discuss more here).
- Occasionally, when taking the medications, excess fluid from the ovaries transfers into the abdominal cavity and causes moderate to severe bloating. In mild to moderate cases of OHSS, the fluid is slowly reabsorbed over the course of several days. Approximately 1-3% of women experience significant OHSS; if a greater amount of fluid is present, it is removed in a procedure very similar to egg retrieval, with IV fluids given in replacement.
- Ovarian Torsion: Very rarely the ovary can twist on itself causing a sudden onset of severe pain on one or both sides. The risk of ovarian torsion is just .3%. For a period of time, donors are asked to discontinue activities such as running, moderate to high impact aerobic activity, horseback riding and strenuous lifting to further decrease this risk.
At Fairfax EggBank, egg donor health and safety are critical. During our screening process we look for factors that might increase risk. For example, in an earlier post, we discussed how a low BMI can be a risk factor. We may also give donors different medications or change protocols to help eliminate or significantly decrease the risk of OHSS. We also follow up with donors and monitor them closely to help eliminate the risk of these complications occurring.
As you do your research about donating eggs, it’s understandable to think about your own future motherhood. After all, you’re helping families! We hope that learning the facts helps you in your decision-making process. Have more questions? Read our FAQs or contact us.