What Happens in an Egg Donor Screening?

Q&A with Jeanne Freed – DESA Social Worker

Jeanne Freed is our clinical social worker who takes our prospective donors through, what is called a psychosocial assessment, during the egg donor application. Jeanne conducts psychological evaluations of potential egg and sperm donors in terms of emotional and psychological suitability, and their ability to fulfil all the relevant requirements of the process. She also provides psychological support and information to donors.

Jeanne’s aim is to provide a safe and confidential counselling space to help manage these difficulties. A clinical social worker with more than 20 years of experience in the field, Jeanne has worked therapeutically with children, adults and families.

We asked Jeanne some very important questions about these sessions and her evaluations thus far:

What motivates women to donate their eggs?

There are various motivations behind someone donating their eggs. We have some donors that start off the process for financial reasons and others have purely altruistic motivations. Those who start out for financial reasons very often go through the process and unwittingly gain an awareness that they are helping somebody else, which is enlightening for them, and in the end, a win-win situation for all.

Many donors come forward to donate because they have friends or family members who are struggling to fall pregnant, so their motivation is to give back to women who cannot fall pregnant naturally.

Interestingly, a few donors actually have their own children and feel that because of their rewarding experience of having their own children, feel that it is important to give back to others who cannot naturally conceive.

What is covered in a full psychosocial assessment for a potential donor?

A full psychosocial background assessment is required. I would need relevant information in order to qualify, such as a history of substance abuse, a history of eating disorders, psychiatric history and of course their current psychosocial functioning.

I would assess how are the donors are functioning right now and would need to understand whether:

  1. a) They are in a stable emotional state
  2. b) They have thought through this process
  3. c) That they are stable enough to go through with it and not to regret the process
  4. d) If they are donating eggs, whether they understand that it is an invasive procedure
  5. e) That they will have to take meds that may have side effects
  6. f) That the donor is stable and confident enough to confirm that meds or side-effects will not trigger something that may not be in the donor’s best interest

Above and beyond the psychosocial aspect of the assessment, it isn’t just about questions and answers, I also work to get a sense of the donor, who they are, their background, and to build a rapport and confidential/ safe environment for them to share this information.

What are the main criteria that would exclude a donor from the egg donation process?

The main criteria of exclusion are based mainly on whether a donor has been diagnosed with bipolar or schizophrenia (or if their parents have been diagnosed with either) as there is a genetic component to these disorders.

I take a very detailed psychiatric evaluation that covers all disorders such as depression, eating disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia; anything where functioning is impacted by a particular illness or disorder.

Donors have been excluded for example when in an abusive relationship that may impact their decision making, or have criminal backgrounds, or that their lives are impacted by current instability.

Why is a session with a Social Worker so important for a potential egg donor?

The purpose of a session with a social worker (whilst a potential egg donor is applying to donate), is incredibly important.

Firstly, the experience needs to be a fulfilling one for an egg donor, however, it is also important to establish whether the egg donor is emotionally and physiologically prepared to go through with the procedure.

A 1:1 counselling session is also a wonderful safe space for an applicant to discuss their own fears, worries or issues. It is, for many, the first time they have had a counselling session, and for most, it turns out to be a very cathartic and positive life-changing experience.

Contact us now to find out how you can begin the egg donation process today!