Few acts can be as touching as providing a couple struggling to have children the opportunity to raise a family. First accomplished in 1983, this procedure has become a realistic option for couples struggling to produce children. Aside from the benefits to the future family, donors also receive a great amount of personal satisfaction from this act. For the donors themselves, after they have provided their eggs, their role is complete.
Indeed, some donors might be willing to donate because of less than respectable motives; donors are typically paid thousands of dollars for their contributions. However, the chance to make a family happy and possibly find medical cures through biomedical research is enough for many donors to make this choice. Indeed, 30% of donors reported altruistic motivation as their sole reason for donating. Even those that do donate for monetary compensation, 20%, do have legitimate reasons behind needing the financial reward such a procedure can provide: 45% of first-time donors are students. Nevertheless, some risks accompany the procedure of donating eggs.
Unlike men donating sperm, women are limited on the number of times they can donate eggs, mostly because of the medication used in the IVF (In vitro fertilization) process. Indeed, health risks do exist, including bleeding from the oocyte recovery procedure and a negative reaction to the hormones used to induce hyperovulation. In rare cases, liver failure or even death might occur, although a large study conducted in the Netherlands found only a 1 in 10,000 rate of death from egg donation.
Because the long-term effects of this procedure have not been studied extensively, it is difficult to predict some of these possible health risks, although research points out risks appear low. Some evidence suggests a higher risk of ovarian cancer, in addition to future fertility complications. However, it does appear that repeated oocyte donation cycles fail to accelerate ovarian aging. Nevertheless, psychological effects may arise from donation with 1 in 5 reporting some emotional change. Both positive and negative affects reported. However, two thirds of women reported being pleased with the procedure and its outcome.
As far as fertility manipulation is involved, egg donation and IVF is a relatively safe procedure with predictable results from the procedure and associated medication. Compared to other fertility manipulation options, egg donation remains very safe. Women choosing to remain sexually active through the use of oral contraceptives have been victims of arguably more frequent and serious side effects, including heart attack, strokes, blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, and gallbladder disease. The slew of Yaz lawsuits, a common and highly-marketed oral contraceptive, point to the danger inherent in this birth control option. In fact, taking some forms of birth control make potential donors ineligible. Therefore, potential egg donors need to consider their lifestyle and health before choosing to make this contribution. While this procedure might not initially appeal to many women, the knowledge that one helped a relative, gave a family a new start or advanced science is a medical gift that few other opportunities present.