How are the eggs used?

The harvested eggs are fertilized, and fertilized eggs passed over by parents with a genetic connection are offered up to single people or couples in need of a fertilized egg, regardless of genetic connection. If the fertilized egg continues to go unused, it will be frozen for future use. After donation, the donor has no real say in how the eggs are handled, with many frozen eggs eventually discarded or used for research.


Regulations are in place to safeguard the use of eggs, with the UK only allowing ten different families to use eggs. US agencies also limit to the number of offspring that can be successfully birthed from a single donor, as proliferation of her genetic material could create a (however slight) statistical chance of relatives meeting and breeding.

Long term effects

Assisted Reproductive Technology is barely 25 years old, with the earliest donors still premenopausal. Monetary compensation for donation is banned in Canada and France, due to the absence of knowledge about the long term effects to the donor. Accelerated cancer proliferation is suggested in rare cases due to the increase in hormone levels, but this is far from an established correlation. Premature menopause and infertility are often linked to egg donors, but we will not know if a correlation is present until decades pass and more data is collected.


The only confirmed positive or negative effects of egg donation are psychological ones, with most women benefiting from the joy of helping a couple in need.

One would infer that multiple rounds of hormone treatment could yield adverse effects in the future, but we honestly don't know at the moment, and will not know the extremest possible physical effects for several decades. Through separate data looking at the rate of cancer in women taking ovulation stimulation drugs between 1965 and 1988, women taking the drugs experienced a two fold increase in uterine cancer.


A difficult process

Regardless of motivation on the part of the donor, egg donation is a long and difficult process, but one that allows you to help people in need, pass on a part of your genetic information, and benefit monetarily. The risks are difficult to discern for the time being, but one thing is painfully obvious - it's certainly easier for a biological male to donate genetic information than a biological female.


Images courtesy of CC sources and Stanford University. Sources linked within the article.