Medications for Prospective Donors

Medications for Prospective Donors

Fortunately, side effects are usually minor. The infertility specialist in charge of the egg donation cycle will  discuss all potential risks and side effects with you and we encourage you to ask any questions you may have.

Gonadotropins (stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs)

This medication is a follicle-stimulating hormone such as Follistim or Gonal-F. The follicle contains the immature egg in the ovary. It needs to grow and mature in order to be capable of being fertilized. In a “natural cycle,” one or two eggs a month are stimulated to ovulation. Many start to develop but never complete the maturation cycle.

In the ovum donation cycle, all of these eggs are encouraged to mature because when there are multiple eggs to fertilize, the chances of a successful outcome are increased.

Possible side effects

Usually none, but headache, fatigue, moodiness, or bloating may occur.

Moodiness, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and mild cramping occurs in some women.

The most significant concern in the ovum donation process is OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.) This is a rare occurrence and happens in less than 1 to 2% of ALL in-vitro fertilization cycles. In OHSS, the ovaries have an exaggerated response to the follicle-stimulating hormone leading to excessive enlargement, abdominal discomfort, and fluid retention. Hospitalization and minor surgery to relieve pressure in the abdomen due to fluid accumulation could be needed. The incidence in ovum donors may actually be lower, since most of these statistics come from  cycles in which  both ovarian stimulation and pregnancy take place in the same person. It is known that pregnancy increases the rate of occurrence of OHSS.

A mild over-response to the medications is not uncommon (15% +/-); if that occurs, it requires careful monitoring and regulation by the doctor. Most can be managed on an outpatient basis with close monitoring by the overseeing physician.

The occurrence of OHSS is minimized by careful screening which is why it is very important to keep all doctor’s appointments, so blood levels of estrogen (estradiol) can be measured and an ultrasound done to assess the response of the ovaries. These two pieces of information allow the doctor to regulate how much follicle stimulating medication to give and when to give the next medication, hCG or a Lupron trigger shot. Either giving or withholding hCG (see below) can significantly control the risk of OHSS.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) – (triggers the follicles to complete maturation and ovulation to occur)

hCG is chemically similar to the leutenizing hormone (LH), that is naturally produced in the body by the pituitary gland and causes ovulation. This is a one time (and the last!) injection. You can expect the egg retrieval process to happen within 34 -36 hours.

Other Information

The egg retrieval process is a minor procedure that is safe for most young women. There is a rare possibility of infection or reaction to the anesthesia. Please review ” Medical Procedure” and “frequently asked questions.”

Medical literature to date does not indicate that fertility medications increase the risk of either breast or ovarian cancer. These medications are continuing to be studied but no long-term side effects have been shown to date.


Every woman has her own physiology and each donor will have her own experience when she donates. This said we believe that ovum donation is a safe procedure that can have many benefits for all involved.

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