Donating an organ, such as a kidney or part of your liver, to another person is a big decision. You probably have many questions about how organ donation will affect your own health. You may even wonder if donating an organ will make it harder — or impossible — for you to have a child.
You may also have questions about fertility and pregnancy if you’re receiving an organ from a living donor.
Here’s what to ask your doctor about how organ donation and transplant might affect fertility and pregnancy.
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Fertility and Pregnancy for Living Organ Donors
Most women and men who donate an organ are still fertile. But if you’re considering becoming a living donor and want to have a child, there are some important considerations.
Will Donating a Kidney or Part of My Liver Impact Female Fertility?
Researchers continue to study the impacts of living organ donation on fertility and pregnancy. But current evidence suggests that kidney or liver donation won’t affect your fertility.
A study on pregnancy after living-liver donation found liver donation had no significant impact on pregnancy. Experts noted that many women in the study were able to become pregnant and give birth after liver donation.
Are There Any Restrictions on Getting Pregnant After Donating an Organ?
After donating an organ, you may need to wait a bit before getting pregnant. Experts recommend waiting six months to one year to give your body a chance to fully heal. This extra time also helps ensure that your remaining kidney or liver is functioning fully.
Am I at Higher Risk for Pregnancy Complications After Donating an Organ?
Experts can’t say for sure whether or not you’re at higher risk for pregnancy complications after organ donation.
If you donate a kidney, you’ll have reduced kidney function for the rest of your life. After kidney donation, some pregnant women could be at increased risk for:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Preeclampsia (high blood pressure and swelling during pregnancy).
Blood volume increases during pregnancy, requiring your remaining kidney to filter more blood. Blood vessels may constrict and cause your blood pressure to rise. The amount of protein in your urine may increase, putting you at risk for kidney disease.
During pregnancy, your doctor will check your kidney and/or liver function to ensure your organs are functioning as they should. Talk with your doctor about any specific prenatal care needs you may have after becoming a living organ donor.
What Else Should I Know About Pregnancy After Living Organ Donation?
If pregnancy is in your future, tell your doctor about your plans when you’re deciding whether to donate an organ. Your doctor can tell you how donation might impact future pregnancies based on your personal health.
You can improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy by taking good care of yourself. If you smoke, consider quitting. Be sure to eat healthy foods, exercise, and see your doctor for regular check-ups.
Are Men Still Fertile After Living Organ Donation?
Donating a kidney or part of the liver doesn’t seem to affect a man’s fertility. Men who weren’t experiencing fertility problems before donating an organ are still fertile after.
Can Women Still Have Healthy Pregnancies After Receiving an Organ?
Yes, most women can get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy after receiving an organ from a living donor. According to the National Kidney Foundation, you can expect your fertility to return soon after surgery. Talk with your doctor about how pregnancy could affect your health and the health of your new organ.
A new study published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth found that pregnancies after liver transplant have a good chance of success.
Are There Guidelines on Getting Pregnant After Receiving an Organ from a Living Donor?
If you received an organ from a living donor, experts recommend waiting about one year to make sure your new organ is healthy. Your doctor may need to adjust any anti-rejection medications (immunosuppressants) you take. You may also need to see a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies to help make sure you and your baby stay healthy.
Will I Have Complications in My Pregnancy if I Received an Organ from a Living Donor?
If you received an organ, there’s some risk that pregnancy could affect how your new organ functions. You might also be at increased risk of giving birth prematurely or having a baby with a lower birth weight. Talk with your doctor about steps you can take to help prevent complications.
How Can I Increase My Chances for a Healthy Pregnancy After Organ Transplant?
Taking care of your overall health is important after an organ transplant and when you’re trying to become pregnant. You can prepare for a healthy pregnancy by:
- Eating nutritious foods.
- Getting regular exercise.
- Quitting smoking if you’re a smoker.
- Staying up to date with regular medical care and preventive screenings.
Are Men Still Fertile After Receiving a Donated Organ?
Men don’t seem to experience any changes to their fertility after receiving a donated organ.
Kidney or liver donation can help people become well enough to live a healthier life — and become a parent. Talk with your doctor about how you can have a healthy pregnancy after donating or receiving an organ.
American Society of Transplantation, How Living Kidney Donation Can Affect Pregnancy, http://www.livedonortoolkit.com/medical-toolkit/how-living-kidney-donation-can-affect-pregnancy
National Kidney Foundation, What to Expect After Donation, https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors/what-expect-after-donation
National Kidney Foundation, Having Children After Transplant? 10 Frequently Asked Questions, https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/transaction/TC/Summer13/Having-Children-after-Transplant
NHS Blood and Transplant, Liver Donor Health, https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/become-a-living-donor/donating-part-of-your-liver/liver-donor-health/
NHS Blood and Transplant, Living Kidney Donation, Pregnancy and Fertility, https://nhsbtdbe.blob.core.windows.net/umbraco-assets-corp/15436/1819-418-liv-kidney-facts-pregnancy-olc291a.pdf
United Network for Organ Sharing, Living Donation: Information You Need to Know, https://unos.org/wp-content/uploads/Brochure-107-Living-donation.pdf
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