Today’s blog post is written by Amber, our program director. Becoming an egg donor is a generous act that can help many individuals and couples achieve their dream of parenthood. […]

June 26, 2024 // Evan Billups // No Comments //

Today’s blog post is written by Amber, our program director.

Becoming an egg donor is a generous act that can help many individuals and couples achieve their dream of parenthood. However, it is important for potential donors to be aware of the associated risks, one of which is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Let’s explore what OHSS is, why it happens, and the specific risks it poses to egg donors.

What is OHSS?

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a medical condition that can occur in women who take hormonal medications to stimulate egg production in the ovaries. These medications are commonly used in assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF and egg donation. OHSS causes the ovaries to become swollen and painful due to excessive stimulation of follicle growth.

Why does OHSS Occur?

During the egg donation process, donors are given injectable hormones to stimulate their ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This is necessary to maximize the number of eggs that can be retrieved and used for fertilization. However, in some cases, the ovaries over-respond to these medications, leading to the development of OHSS.

Symptoms of OHSS

The severity of OHSS can vary from mild to severe, with symptoms that include:

· Mild OHSS- Abdominal bloating, mild pain, nausea, and weight gain

· Moderate OHSS- Increased abdominal pain, vomiting, significant bloating, and noticeable weight gain

· Severe OHSS- Severe abdominal pain, rapid weight gain, shortness of breath, decreased urination, and blood clots.

Severe OHSS can be a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention.

Risks of OHSS for Egg Donors

1. Health Complications

Severe OHSS can lead to serious health issues such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, blood clots, kidney failure, and fluid accumulation in the abdomen and chest. These complications require urgent treatment and can have long-term health impacts.

2. Hospitalization

In cases of moderate to severe OHSS, hospitalization may be necessary to manage symptoms and prevent further complications. This can involve fluid management, pain control, and monitoring of vital signs.

3. Disruption to Daily Life

Even mild to moderate OHSS can cause discomfort and disrupt an egg donor’s daily activities, requiring time off work or other responsibilities. The physical and emotional toll can also affect overall well-being.

4. Impact on Future Fertility

While rare, severe OHSS and its complications can potentially impact a donor’s future fertility. Ensuring careful monitoring and management during the stimulation process is crucial to minimize these risks.

Preventing OHSS

Fertility specialists take several steps to minimize the risk of OHSS in egg donors, including:

Careful monitoring

Regular ultrasounds and blood tests to monitor ovarian response and hormone levels.

Personalized medication protocols

Adjusting medication dosages based on the donor’s individual response to minimize overstimulation.

Trigger Shot Adjustments

Using alternative medication or lower doses to induce final egg maturation reduces the risk of triggering OHSS.


While OHSS is a significant risk associated with egg donation, it is a rare side effect. Understanding the condition and its potential impact is very important when considering becoming an egg donor. By working closely with qualified fertility specialists, potential donors can ensure they are thoroughly screening, monitored and supported throughout the process. This not only helps to mitigate the risks of OHSS but also contributes to a safer and more positive egg donation experience.

Egg donation is a profoundly generous act that can bring immense joy to families struggling with infertility. With proper knowledge and precautions, donors can make informed decision, balancing their desire to help others with the need to protect their own health and well-being.

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