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Egg Donation

Egg Donors Don’t Hurt Chances of Later Pregnancy, Study Finds

If a recent study coming out of Belgium proves to be accurate, past, present, and future egg donors may be looking at some very good news. My Health News Daily reports on a new study claiming that egg donation does not hurt chances of a later pregnancy:

Out of a group of 60 women who had donated eggs, 54 later became pregnant within a year of trying to conceive, and three more women became pregnant within 18 months of trying to conceive, all without reproductive assistance, the findings showed.

The remaining three women in the study became pregnant with the help of fertility treatments. For two of these women, the treatments were needed due to fertility problems in their male partner.

Women who donate eggs are treated with hormones that ramp up their ovaries’ egg production, and previous studies had suggested that fertility problems might follow in the wake of these hormone treatments, according to the study. However, these previous studies had flaws in their design, so a more robust look at the issue was needed.

The question of how egg donation may affect future fertility is important not only for those who donate eggs to others, but also for women considering freezing their eggs to delay childbearing, the researchers said.

In the new study, researchers asked 194 women who had donated eggs at a fertility center in Belgium questions regarding their attempts to become pregnant. On average, the women’s age at the time of their egg donation was 29, and their age at the time of the telephone survey was 34.

There were limitations to the study, the researchers said. Egg donors are a select group of women — women with fertility problems are unlikely to be able to participate. Further, while the findings suggest that women’s fertility after donating eggs is unaffected in the short-term, longer-term studies are needed to look at the possibility that the ovaries of these women age faster than usual, the researchers wrote.

The researchers noted that there is some evidence that the egg donation procedure, which involves puncturing the ovary, may cause the immune system to produce anti-ovary antibodies, and that higher levels of these antibodies have been seen in infertile women. Still, other studies have suggested that increase does not affect egg production, the researchers said.

The researchers noted that 16 percent of the women in the study reported changes in their menstrual cycle after egg donation, although none of these women reported fertility problems.

The study was published online March 29 in the journal Fertility and Sterility.


2 comments for “Egg Donors Don’t Hurt Chances of Later Pregnancy, Study Finds”

  • Jennifer

    You really should read the actual study since this headline is far from the truth. The paper presents a very compelling set of data that suggests that these women had no problems with their fertility after they donated eggs. However, there is one glaring mystery in the published study. According to page 2, paragraph 1, “We were able to contact 205 of
    the 307 women that underwent oocyte donation in our center
    between 1999 and 2010. Respondents were informed about
    the purpose of the study, and 194 consented orally to participate,
    representing a total of 343 donation cycles.” Yet when you read on, the results reports the data for 60 respondents. Where are the other 134 respondents?
    They wrote, “Sixty past oocyte donors had attempted to conceive since the donation procedure.” What about the other 134? Out of 194 donors, only 60 tried to conceive even though the average age of the donors was 29? Were they unable to conceive? How do we know that they did not try? Were they too embarrassed to admit it – phone surveys are problematic for this reason and others? This is troubling. I causes me to doubt the representation. Secondly, are those children developmentally normal? That question is never asked.

  • It is interesting that Corinne Donnelly’s comments should be posted the day before a hearing in the California Legislature to consider paying women to donate their eggs to research. Soothing reports like the Belgium study–which has the major omissions outlined by Jennifer–could be used to recruit women by research scientists. And who will be their most likely recruits? Women who are poor!

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