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Egg Donors aka “hens” face a lack of information and tracking & potentially fatal health risks


Women who donate eggs, what the assisted reproduction industry sometimes refers to as “hens” are often treated as unworthy of even so much as basic follow up in any kind of effort to establish the potential long term health risks to them.

Here in the United States, recruited through various forms of advertising, particularly college newspapers, women are promised a quick means by which to gain thousands of dollars in a relatively short period of time.

For the most part, they are not informed of any potential health risks, in part, because no one has bothered to collect the data to determine some of the long term health risks to them.

Thus they stumble headlong into an almost completely unregulated industry that tends to regard them as little more than walking talking raw materials.

Internationally, human egg harvesting operations are geared primarily towards the purposes of reproductive tourism, selling the materials gathered from what are often impoverished indigenous women to wealthy infertile couples from other countries.

We have little to no data on the long term consequences to these “hens” as building those studies would first require any form of genuine concern for these women.

If the industry were to be regulated to allow no more than 2 or 3 courses of egg harvesting, they would then have to advertise all the harder in a desperate attempt to attract an ongoing stream of women willing to submit their bodies to these experimental treatments. Costs would rise.

They, and the couples that utilize the industry prefer things just the way they stand today, with a single “hen” undergoing round after round of harvesting and prices staying roughly where they are.

Should something go wrong, for any given individual woman, when and if she is admitted to her local hospital often enough, her illness is not recognized as being related to the multiple courses of hormone injections.

Once again, the lack of tracking, data collection, and long term data analysis only serves to mask the genuine nature of her condition.

See, Potentially fatal fine print of fertility ads.

To change this current state of affairs would mean to care about women, not merely what they can be used for, but about them as individuals and as people rather than as a means to and ends.

Doing so would mean women’s lives would matter enough to insist that the prevention of their deaths took precidence.

Building even basic data sets and examining the long term risks would be required, long before an undertaking of this magnitude and potential risk was unleashed upon the open marketplace, where women in need of cash can always be found.

In times of economic hardship, the number of “hens” goes up, as does the number of rounds any individual “hen” undergoes in an attempt to gain more access to monetary resources.

As I wrote last year in Outsourcing reproduction, fertility tourism, and the money (or lack thereof) at the heart of it all:

a sampling of just a few of the domestic economic articles that speak to what happens when times get tight:

Sperm, egg donors increase during recession

Need Money? Donate Your Eggs!

Sperm and egg donations up in South Carolina

also note-

New York State Allows Payment for Egg Donations for Research

There is little to no regulation on the industry, thus leaving individual women left to fend for themselves.

They have great difficulty suing those who did this to them, without so much as informing them of the risks as showing what was done would require tracking to show a pattern, and that these symptoms are common to women who have undergone such.

The industry has worked diligently to ensure that precisely that lack of data can be used to assure “hens” on the front end that there are few known risks.

Furthermore, proving that any illness one suffers in the aftermath is related to the “treatments” or what was done to her likewise becomes a difficult case to make precisely due to that lack of data and track record through time of what other “hens” have experienced.

chickencoop“Patient confidentiality” provides a useful shield for the industry ensuring that its victims have difficulty getting in contact with one another. Compartmentalizing the women, one from another.

The government has left the industry unregulated, and neither mandates any research or tracking nor allocates any money for such.

(Obviously on a much larger scale,) exploring the history of  Diethylstilbestrol or DES 1938-1971 and the multi-generational tracking that was finally implemented as the evidence of the damage it was doing began to come to light has SOME interesting parallels, (as well as key differences.)

Back in egg collection-land, these women are in essence reduced to mere hens. Should one die, another will be added to the coup to keep production steady.

In the U.S.  there’s a better understanding of health risks and history as it relates to real poultry than the mass experiment playing out across these women’s bodies and lifetimes.

Women, women’s lives, and women’s health apparently means that little to those in any position to change this status quo.


One Response to “Egg Donors aka “hens” face a lack of information and tracking & potentially fatal health risks”

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