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Hidden (not to me!) Risks of Egg Donations/IVF

Posted May 20 2010 6:23am
They recently had a big article in the New York Times about the soaring prices infertile couples are paying for eggs...again, little mention of the possible long-term side effects of the repeated blasts of synthetic hormones. Over the years I've noticed women who've publicly shared their infertility journies, and I've noted that a lot of women who undergo IVF, especially if it fails, seem to develop ovarian cancer (a stated risk of ovarian stimulating drugs, for obvious reasons). Interested to see I'm not the only one keeping track. Here's a letter published in response to the article

Dear Editor

Re “ Payment Offers to Egg Donors Prompt Scrutiny ” (May 11): After postwar physicians routinely placed pregnant women at risk for miscarriage on diethylstilbestrol, it took decades before the deadly effects of that synthetic hormone were uncovered.

Without long-term follow up, it is simply not possible to offer potential egg donors a truly informed consent about the long-term risks of taking the powerful synthetic hormones associated with the egg retrieval process. Yet, there is no effort now under way to establish a registry to find out what the long-term risks are. Why is that?

Consider what happened to magazine editor Liz Tilberis , comedian-actor Gilda Radner, playwright Wendy Wasserstein and many other women who underwent hyperstimulation and died of cancer in the prime of their lives. Shouldn’t we first attempt to provide a full informed consent before financially encouraging women to take powerful hormones?

Diane Beeson

Tina Stevens

San Francisco

More reading on egg donation with some interesting firsthand comments here

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