Considering Donor Eggs and Embryos

Potential Risks

Women who are the recipients of egg or embryo donation will not have to go through ovarian stimulation or egg retrieval; therefore, they are not exposed to many of the possible risks of these procedures, like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
The main risk for the recipient is becoming pregnant with more than one baby. This risk can be high because many women who donate eggs are usually young (younger than 35 years old), which increases the chance of a successful pregnancy. When looking at the statistics, the age of the recipient typically doesn't matter; it's the age of the donor at the time of egg retrieval that determines the pregnancy rate.
Although many women who want to become pregnant would welcome more than one baby, it's important to understand that carrying more than one child does pose some risks. Some of these include:
Your healthcare provider should transfer the minimum number of embryos that will still provide a high chance of getting pregnant with a low risk of multiples. If you do become pregnant with more than one baby, you may want to consider having a consultation with a healthcare provider who is experienced in high-risk pregnancies. He or she can help give you information and guidance about complications that may occur during your pregnancy. Some women may also want to consider reducing the number of embryos they are carrying.
In general, serious complications from fertility medications and procedures required for IVF procedures are rare. However, as with any medical treatment, there are possible risks.
During an embryo transfer, some women may experience mild cramping when the catheter is inserted through the cervix. It's rare for women to develop an infection, although if one occurs, it can be treated with antibiotics.
There is also a risk of an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. If this occurs, you will need to take medication or have surgery to remove it. Make sure to seek immediate medical attention if you are pregnant and you experience any signs of an ectopic pregnancy, such as:
  • A sharp, stabbing pain
  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Low back pain
  • Low blood pressure (due to blood loss).
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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