Egg donors cannot give their informed consent

Publié le 14 Feb, 2017

“When Catherine volunteered to donate her eggs, she had to enter her SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) results on the admission form. But no-one asked her if she understood the long-term health impact of ovarian stimulation”. Can people make an informed decision without knowing the potential consequences?


It’s not an omission but an unknown factor: “No-one knows the long-term risks[1] of egg donation”. Some women have reported health problems after donating eggs such as ovarian cysts or endometriosis, but little research has been carried out in this area. Assisted procreation centres do not guarantee follow-up of these women who are not considered patients.


Studies published on ovarian stimulation and the harvesting of eggs focus on women enrolled in in-vitro fertilisation programmes. However, although the same techniques are used, these are two “populations” of different women: the one group has been diagnosed with infertility whereas the other group is selected specifically because there are no health issues of this kind.


Egg donation is constantly increasing in the United States. The number of donors doubled between 2000 and 2010, amounting to 20,481 women in 2014. According to Doctor Wendy Chavkin, Professor of Public Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Columbia University and co-founder of a reproductive health defence group, “it is irresponsible to continue in this way. Using these procedures without more information violates all aspects of the public health policy”. She deplores the system which does not encourage scientists to embark on research in this area: “Fertility clinics are making money, egg donors are remunerated and infertile couples have a chance to have a baby. It is a very lucrative business”.


[1] The short-term risks have been investigated in greater depth.

STAT News, Emily Woodruff (28/01/2017)

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