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Egg Donor Medications & Risks

Medications & Risks: About

Medications Used In Egg Donation

Please note that each egg donor responds differently to her individual protocol; some donors will experience no side effects at all. The medical staff will instruct each donor on how to self-administer the medications with small needles which are injected into the fatty tissue of either the thighs or abdomen.

GNRH AGONIST (Leuprolide Acetate, Lupron)

One injection per day for approximately 12 days, then one injection per day in conjunction with gonadotropin therapy (see below) for a total of approximately 22 days.  The administration of GNH agonist medicine like Lupron is used to prevent release of eggs and to control some of the female hormone levels. Specifically, it affects the pituitary gland and results in lower luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in the body. This approach is used to achieve a more uniform and predictable response to the IVF medicines and reduce the likelihood of an egg donation cycle being canceled. Extensive studies on non-human primates, as well as limited human evaluations, suggest that leuprolide acetate is harmless. The medication is rapidly (within hours) eliminated from the system upon discontinuing administration. Possible Side Effects (no long-term side effects have been reported) are moodiness, hot flashes, and headaches.

GNRH Antagonist (Ganirelix Acetate, Cetrotide)

One injection per day or every 3 days taken with gonadotropin therapy. Typically it is added after being on the gonadotropin therapy for 4-5 days. It is taken for approximately 5-6 days. This may be used instead of the GNRH agonist medicine Lupron to prevent the eggs from ovulating during the stimulation and also allows for more control of the cycle. It is not given for as many days as the Lupron.

Follicle Stimulating Hormones - FSH or Gonadotropins

(Gonal F, Bravelle, Follistim, Menopur, Repronex)

One injection per day for approximately 10 days. FSH is the very same hormone produced by a woman’s body to mature the eggs within the ovaries during her reproductive cycle. Each egg in the ovary sits in a sac called a follicle. In the treatment of egg donation, FSH medicine is given to develop many sacs or follicles and thus make many eggs. The more ovarian follicles produced, the greater chances are for a successful outcome.  Possible Side Effects (no long-term side effects have been reported) are headache, moodiness, fatigue and bloating. Rare possible Side Effects are OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome). The incidence of severe OHSS is 1-2% of IVF cases. OHSS means essentially that the body has "over-responded" to the FSH and the ovaries become excessively enlarged. Great care is taken by the physician to minimize the risk. Treatment for this condition may include hospitalization and a minor procedure. Forgoing proper treatment can result in extremely serious complications including blood clots and stroke. There is also a rare risk of the ovary tearing open or twisting on itself, so decreasing physical activities while on the FSH medicine is important.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin - hCG or “Trigger shot" (Ovidrel, Profasi, Pregnyl)

One injection approximately 34 hours prior to egg retrieval. hCG is the name of the pregnancy hormone and is produced by the human placenta. The purpose of administering hCG is to mature the eggs before they are retrieved, like when the sun ripens a fruit. Once the follicles are the right size the egg inside needs to ripen or become mature; hCG medicine makes this happen. It is very important to take this injection because without it the eggs would not be usable for IVF. Possible side effects (no long-term side effects have been reported) are headache, moodiness, fatigue and bloating.


Possible allergic reaction which, in rare cases, may be severe.

Medications & Risks: Job Listings
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