All of these procedures to which the egg provider and surrogate are subjected pose devastating short- and long-term health risks. The short-term risks include ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), characterized by difficulty breathing, excruciating pelvic pain, swelling of the hands and legs, severe abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, vomiting, weight gain, low urine output, and diarrhea. OHSS can be fatal. Other short-term risks are ruptured cysts, ovarian torsion, blood clots, chronic pelvic pain, premature menopause, infection, difficulty breathing, allergic reaction, bleeding, kidney failure, stroke, and even death.
The long-term risks include cancer, especially reproductive—ovarian, breast, or endometrial—cancers, and (in a sad irony) future infertility. Both surrogates and egg providers are typically given Lupron, a drug that is not approved by the FDA for fertility use (it is used to treat men with advanced prostate cancer) to produce the onset of menopause with potentially incapacitating and long-lasting effects. Lupron and Synarel are used off-label and are Category X drugs, meaning that if a woman gets pregnant while taking the drug, the fetus will be harmed. Lupron also puts women at risk for intracranial pressure.
This information came to me from a source who wished to remain anonymous, and who, because she was very close to Brittany, knew that Brittany had been an egg donor. My source reached out to me because she was aware of my work exposing the risks, known and unknown, to young women who make the decision to donate—or considerably more often, sell—their eggs, which is what Brittany did. I was contacted because this person was worried that this decision might have played a role in Brittany’s developing a glioblastoma.
To me, these things are tragic, because full information is not out there, women do not make informed choices, and also because the human tendency when you are young and healthy is to say “it won’t happen to me and I don’t care if it does.” This is the same mentality around abortion. Women may hear of possible health risks, mental or physical, but in the short term, they don’t care. Until they do. At which point, it’s too late.by