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The risks of IVF using donor eggs

IVF using donor eggs is generally a very safe, minimally invasive process. However, as with all medical procedures, there are some risks. In this guide, we explain the risks of IVF with donor eggs so that you feel well-informed prior to starting treatment.

Medically verified
Written by Apricity Team
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Embarking on the journey of IVF with donor eggs is a significant decision for many hopeful parents and it’s normal to want to learn as much as possible about the treatment so that you can make the right choices for you before your first cycle begins. That’s why comparing egg donation IVF in the UK versus abroad is helpful, as is looking at IVF with donor egg success rates.

The risks of treatment are also something many people want to learn more about. IVF with donor eggs is considered an incredibly safe fertility treatment. However, like many other treatments, it does still have some risks. Understanding the risks of IVF with donor eggs before starting the process can help you know what you may experience and what to look out for.

Is IVF with donor eggs safe?

Undergoing IVF with donor eggs is a very safe process. As with own egg IVF risks, those that can arise during donor egg IVF treatment are generally minimal but do vary depending on your age, fertility history and any pre-existing conditions that you have.

Your fertility specialist will assess your individual risks and carefully plan your care to minimise them as much as possible. However, it is still beneficial to be aware of the risks so let’s explore them in more detail:

egg donor heart sign

Stress and anxiety

The IVF donor eggs process can be emotionally taxing. It's normal to experience stress and anxiety throughout the process. Leaning on friends, family, or support groups can provide invaluable emotional support as you go through treatment.

Many clinics also offer counselling and support services to help you manage these feelings. Apricity offers comprehensive support via our mobile app, and you’ll have access to your own fertility advisor 7 days a week through extended hours. In addition, we provide unlimited supportive counselling for all donor egg recipients, signpost you to valuable sources of information such as the Donor Conception Network and give six months of access to Paths to Parenthub when you sign up with us to find a donor.

Tenderness and bruising at injection sites

During IVF treatment, you'll use medication to prepare your body for receiving a donor egg embryo. You may experience tenderness and bruising at the sites where you inject your medications into your skin. However, this is typically mild and temporary. Using ice packs and following proper injection techniques can help minimise any bruising or soreness.

Ectopic pregnancy

There is a slightly higher chance of ectopic pregnancy following IVF treatment than there is with a natural pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube.

While ectopic pregnancies don’t always cause symptoms, they are likely to develop between the 4th and 12th week of pregnancy if they occur, and can include:

  • Light vaginal bleeding

  • Pelvic pain

  • Brown watery discharge

  • Shoulder pain

  • Discomfort during urination or bowel movements

Ectopic pregnancies can be serious if left untreated so if you do experience any of these symptoms following a positive pregnancy test, you should seek medical advice.

Multiple pregnancies

IVF with donor eggs increases the likelihood of multiple pregnancies where multiple embryos are transferred. Data collected by the Human Fertility & Embryology Authority (HFEA) showed that when using double embryo transfers, the multiple birth rate was highest for patients under 35 at over 30% from 2015-2019, declining with age to below 15% for patients over 44 when using their own eggs. When using donor eggs, however, the multiple birth rate remained around 30% across all patient ages when using double embryo transfers.

Being pregnant with two or more babies does have more risks than carrying a single baby. As a result, IVF cycles using donor eggs now more commonly consist of single embryo transfers. In 1991, 90% of donor egg IVF cycles included multiple embryo transfers, compared to around 10% in 2019.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a relatively common occurrence during pregnancy, affecting around four to five pregnant people in every hundred. There is evidence to suggest that the risk of gestational diabetes is slightly greater in pregnancies from donor egg IVF than from own egg IVF.

However, most people with gestational diabetes have uncomplicated pregnancies and healthy births. In addition, in the UK, pregnant people are screened for diabetes and if detected, it can be monitored and is usually controlled by making changes to your diet.

High blood pressure and preeclampsia

High blood pressure during pregnancy is one of the most common risks associated with IVF using donor eggs. One study by the National Institute for Health and Care Research indicates you may be around twice as likely to develop it compared to those who have IVF using their own eggs.  

High blood pressure can lead to preeclampsia during the second half of pregnancy, up to after your baby is delivered. Most cases of pre-eclampsia are mild, but it does need to be monitored and treated to reduce the likelihood of any complications for you or your baby. Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Extra protein in your urine

  • Severe headaches

  • Problems with your vision including blurriness

  • Pain below your ribs

  • Sudden swelling in your hands, feet or face

  • Vomiting

How Apricity approaches the risk of IVF with donor eggs

IVF treatment has been around for more than 40 years, with over 1.3 million cycles being recorded by the HFEA since 1991 and 3,058 donor egg cycles taking place in 2019 in the UK alone. It is an incredibly safe fertility treatment that increases the chance of parenthood for so many people.

At Apricity, our team of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians, Fertility Nurses, Midwives, Accredited Counsellors, Fertility Advisors and Egg Donation Specialists have decades of collective experience in helping people to become parents through IVF using donor eggs.

We understand the risks associated with donor egg IVF and throughout your treatment, any risks and side effects will be discussed with you, so that you have the opportunity to raise any concerns and ask any questions you might have. Plus, you can contact an advisor seven days a week should you ever want more information.

All care we provide and your treatment plan is tailored to you and your unique circumstances. To get started on your donor egg IVF journey with Apricity, book a free consultation with an Apricity advisor.

Written by Apricity Team

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