Egg Donor Medications and Potential Risks Involved
Egg donors help parenthood possible for many couples who are struggling with infertility for years. A woman may be unable to use her eggs to conceive due to various health issues and age factors. You, as an egg donor, can help other women experience motherhood by donating your eggs.
The egg donation process may seem intimidating and alien to many women. Hence, there is nothing wrong with being inquisitive about it. You might want to know what egg donation is, what are the requirements to become an egg donor, and what are the risks and medications associated with egg donation.
We receive so many inquiries about egg donation but most questions revolve around egg donor medications and risks involved in the egg donation process.
Let’s understand the different medications recommended for egg donors and what are the risks involved?
Ovarian Stimulation Medication
Your body produces a certain amount of egg follicles every month. Naturally, the body allows only one egg each month for ovulation. The other eggs are ordinarily discarded by your body in the next menstrual cycle. In the egg donation stimulation process, medicines are given to stimulate the ovary so it releases extra eggs and keeps all the egg follicles. This is done through self-administered fertility medications.
Thus, in this process, the natural pituitary stimulation is overridden by using higher than normal amounts of hormones. The pituitary function is suppressed using birth control pills and Lupron.
Let’s look at some general set of medicines prescribed in egg donation.
• Leuprolide Acetate (Lupron)
The drug is taken to temporarily suppress the functioning of the pituitary gland. This results in the lower follicle and luteinizing hormones in the woman. This helps in establishing a basic control over the ovaries that allows the doctor to plan the best approach in successfully retrieving the eggs.
Normally, one injection per day is recommended by the doctor over the course of 12 days. The possible side effects of the medicine include headache, hot flashes, and moodiness. No long-term effects have been reported.
• Follicle Stimulating Hormones
The FSH or Gonadotropins is a self-administered subcutaneous injection that is recommended 1-2 times daily for 9-14 days before the egg retrieval. The medicine contains a follicle-stimulating hormone that causes the egg follicle to grow and develop in the ovary.
Though there are no long-term side effects of the medicine, great care is taken when giving this medication. The doctor has to minimize the chances of the ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (a condition in which the ovaries get enlarged). Other side-effects include headaches, fatigue, moodiness, bloating, etc.
• Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
HCG or trigger shot is given to prepare the ovaries for egg retrieval. It is administered as an intramuscular injection and is given 72 hours before the egg retrieval procedure. It is usually a one-time injection with some minor side effects like bloating, fatigue, headache, and moodiness.
Are there any risks to egg donation medication?
Egg donors have a complete right to be educated about the risks associated with these medications.
According to ASRM (American Society of Reproductive Medicine), injectable fertility medicines can have the following side-effects:
• Mild bruising or soreness at the spot where the injection is given. To avoid this, you can try using different sites for the injections.
• Occasional nausea and vomiting.
• Temporary reactions/allergies like itching, skin reddening at the injection spot.
• Tender breast and increased vaginal discharge along with fatigue and mood swings.
• Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
OHSS can show symptoms like nausea, ovarian discomfort, and bloating. These symptoms are temporary and go away within a few days. In some cases, OHSS can lead to the accumulation of a large amount of fluid in the abdomen and lungs. It can also cause enlarged ovaries leading to discomfort and trouble breathing. However, OHSS is very rare – in less than 1% of women.
Earlier reports have tried establishing a link between fertility medicine and ovarian cancer. However, the latest reports and findings are reassuring and do not show any such association.
The egg donation procedure can seem intimidating. It is important that you religiously follow the doctor’s advice and administer your medications. Any side effects should be immediately communicated to the doctor or fertility clinic.
Get in touch with us to share more doubts and queries on egg donation.