Dec. 26, 2008 -- Most women who donate their eggs at fertility clinics look back at their egg donation experience with satisfaction -- but others express physical and psychological concerns.
Researchers report that news in Fertility and Sterility.
Nancy Kenney, PhD, of the University of Washington and Michelle McGowan, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University studied 80 egg donors from around the U.S.
The women completed questionnaires about their expectations and experiences the first time they donated eggs. At least two years had passed since that donation. The reason for the delay was to give the women time for long-term perspective.
All of the women had been paid for donating their eggs. They reported payments ranging from about $1,100 to $7,300. For some women, money was their sole motivation, but others said they did it purely (or at least partly) out of altruism.
Emotional, Physical Feedback
Two-thirds of the women reported only positive feelings about having donated their eggs. Another 14% had negative feelings, 12% had mixed feelings, and the remaining women had neutral feelings or didn't answer that question.
The positive feelings included happiness and pride at having helped someone else. The negative feelings included frustration that the donation process was anonymous (so they could never know what happened to their eggs) and feeling underpaid for their donation.
Sixteen percent of the women reported physical problems -- including ovarian cysts, fertility problems, and weight gain -- that they linked to donating eggs. There's no proof that egg donation caused any of those problems, Kenney and McGowan note.
Pain and bloating at the time of the donation were the most common physical problems that the women reported; most cases were mild. But 20% of the women said they didn't remember being told about any physical risks, such as ovarian hyperstimulation, before donating their eggs.
From a psychological standpoint, seven women said they were still curious to know about any children that may have resulted from their donation. And two donors "had developed ongoing concerns that a child that they bear and raise might, by chance, meet and develop a relationship with her donor offspring," write Kenney and McGowan.
It's not clear if the women who chose to complete the survey were representative of other egg donors. The researchers recommend longer follow-up with egg donors to see how they fare physically and psychologically.