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Critically Speaking

Dec 15, 2021

Millions of women are undergoing ovarian stimulation to harvest either their own eggs or to donate, for monetary compensation, to egg banks that can help infertile couples, gay couples, and single infertile women to, through in vitro fertilization, conceive.  Donors can receive considerable payments for their donations and, in fact, many young women undergo multiple cycles of ovarian stimulation treatments.  These payments can help with student loans, living expenses, and other things.  The treatments consist of hormone injections for over a week in order to get the ovaries to produce a lot of eggs.  The short term risks, like the painful ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, are infrequent and women are usually informed of this.  But there have been mixed reports as to the long term risks of cancers associated with these hormone treatments. The studies are mixed because they have not been conducted with sufficient rigor. Women undergoing treatments, either to retrieve their own eggs or to donate, are mostly unaware of these long term risks as they can manifest some years later.  Women need to be fully informed before undergoing injection with ovarian stimulation hormones.


 Key Takeaways:

  • Egg donation clinics are mostly "for profit" organizations and businesses.
  • There needs to be a national registry of all egg donors in the US.
  • The registry must contain the ages, types of hormones used, number of cycles of stimulation, history of birth control pill use, ethnicity, and the clinic where they donated.
  • Only then can we conduct the long term studies to clearly assess risks and properly inform women about the potential risks of these treatments.


"We already know that long term hormone replacement therapy is a risk for breast cancer and other female cancers. It's only logical to wonder if a possibility exists that the hormones injected to harvest eggs also increase the risk of certain cancers down the road." —  Therese Markow, Ph.D.



  1. Schneider J, Lahl J, Kramer W. Long-term breast cancer risk following ovarian stimulation in young egg donors: a call for follow-up, research and informed consent. ReprodBiomed Online. 2017 May;34(5):480-485.



  4. Brinton LA, Sahasrabuddhe VV, Scoccia B. Fertility drugs and the risk of breast and gynecologic cancers. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine. 2012 Apr;30(2):131-145.

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Twitter: @CritiSpeak




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