healthy egg donors

Egg Donor Screening Process: What To Expect Before, During & After

April 4, 2022

 In today’s medical world, IVF can work the magic needed to allow for many challenged individuals another chance at having a child. 

In many scenarios, one of the issues is caused or linked to a woman’s inability to produce adequate eggs for conception. While this can pose a risk to a person’s potential familial future, there are always alternatives that can help make those dreams of a family come true. Regardless of the reason, in many of those cases where someone’s eggs aren’t a viable option, a substitution or ‘donor egg’ can be used to bypass those difficulties. 

This article is all about this process, who is eligible to donate, and what it means to be an egg donor. 

What is egg donation?

Egg donation is a process in which a fertile female donates an egg (oocyte) to another woman to help her conceive.  This process is part of ART (assisted reproductive technology).  Egg donation benefits women who cannot use their own eggs for various reasons, including ovarian failure, avoiding congenital anomalies in the fetus, or advanced age. The egg retrieval procedure involves IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization), which is the process of the extraction of eggs from the ovaries, fertilization in the laboratory with sperm and subsequently the transfer of embryo(s) into the uterus.

In this article, we will talk about the criteria of becoming an egg donor, pre-screening process and what to expect at in-person medical screening. 

What are the basic criteria of becoming an egg donor? 

There are several factors that may affect a woman’s ability to become an egg donor. 

Generally, egg donors are between the ages of 19-30. Women in this age group tend to respond better to fertility drugs and often have a higher quality and quantity of eggs. 

Ideal egg donor candidates will also need to meet the below criteria such as healthy BMI, healthy lifestyle, non-smoker, no current use of drugs or excessive alcohol. 

Once you are matched with (an) intended parent(s), there are a couple steps to take before the IVF specialist can contact you to arrange your in-person medical screening. 

Why is a psychological evaluation needed?

Our psychologist screens the donor from the psychological perspective. Psychological evaluation occurs after the egg donor gets officially matched with the intended parent(s). The egg donor will need to undergo a psychological evaluation session with a psychologist. The report will be sent to the IVF physician’s office for review.  This allows us to evaluate a donor’s emotional well-being and to identify any emotional problems, evaluate donor motivations, and verify that the donor understands the physical, psychological, and legal risks that could result from the egg donation process. 

What is a genetic evaluation? 

Our genetic counselor screens for a family history of birth defects or hereditary diseases by reviewing a comprehensive family history.  Egg donors must not have any family history of inherited genetic disorders.   A genetic evaluation also looks for any medical conditions or diseases that could be passed down by the egg donor.  To construct a donor’s medical history, we need to collect as much information as possible regarding your health and the health of your family members. A genetic counselor will interview egg donors to collect medical information and complete a family tree.  A genetic counselor will also advise if additional tests for the donor may be needed. 

Potential egg donors will also need to go through genetic carrier screening to rule out any genetic abnormalities that could affect the offspring.  We will explain this test in more depth in the next sections of this article. 

In regards to mental illnesses, it is important to note that not all mental illness from an egg donor’s family history will result in an automatic disqualification.  For example, if one of your grandparents had a history of clinical depression, that would not disqualify you as an egg donor.  Your IVF physician will review the detailed genetic evaluation report provided by the genetic counselor and make the decision based on each specific case. 

After your pass both psychological and genetic evaluations.  You will then be ready to move forward to in-person medical screening at the IVF physician’s office.

What to expect at your in-person medical screening?

This medical screening is a crucial step in the egg donation process.  This occurs at your IVF physician’s office.  The purpose of this screening is to detect certain diseases (such as sexually transmitted diseases) that might interfere with the success of the donation and/or disqualify an egg donor from moving forward to the egg retrieval cycle.  It involves performing a physical examination with a pelvic ultrasound to evaluate the ovaries.  Blood tests, cervical cultures, a pap smear and genetic carrier screening blood test are often part of this process as well. 

The donor screening process typically involves: 

  • Review of the donor's profile and medical records, psychological assessment, and genetic risk evaluation. 
  • A physical/pelvic examination
  • A specific pelvic ultrasound examination of the ovaries
  • A panel of blood tests including infectious panel and genetic carrier screening 
  • A urine and drug screen

What is genetic carrier screening?

Genetic carrier screenings are required in the egg donor screening process even if a genetic evaluation has been already completed.  A genetic evaluation is used to review the family genetic history and it can be done via a phone consultation.  However, a genetic carrier screening is usually a blood or saliva test.  This is used to see if an egg donor is a carrier of a recessive genetic disease, and make sure that the egg donor does not share the same recessive genetic disease as the intended parents in order to avoid the offspring to be at risk of having the actual disease. 

All humans carry abnormalities in their DNA.  The vast majority of people don’t even know about them, let alone are affected or show any signs of them throughout their lives.  During the IVF process, the sperm and egg sources would need to be tested as part of their pre-cycle lab work prior to the creation of the embryos.  This test will help to determine a good egg donor candidate.  

What if I carry the same genetic carrier gene as the intended parents?

Depending on the specific variant, an egg donor could be disqualified if they share the same recessive gene as the intended parent. However, in that scenario, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you would be fully removed from the program. Our experience coordinators at Hatch will assist you in matching with a different intended parents who does not share the same carrier gene. 

What could disqualify me from the medical screening results?

There are few factors that could disqualify you as an egg donor.  For example, some of the infectious panel results could come back as positive, or some of the hormonal test results could come back not within the normal range.  However, some positive results can become negative after receiving targeted treatments, and you can be reconsidered once the results become normal.

What to expect after the medical screening?

After your medical screening, you will receive medical clearance in 2-3 weeks assuming all the results are normal.  Then we will help you to start on the legal contract process.  Intended parent(s) and the egg donor will need to sign a written contract that state rights and obligations of both parties. This step needs to be completed before your IVF physician’s office can give your instructions to start a treatment cycle.  After you have both medical and legal clearances, your IVF physician will then give you instructions to take fertility injections to stimulate the ovaries to multiple eggs.  An egg retrieval stimulation cycle usually takes about 10-14 days from the date of medications start to the actual egg retrieval procedure. 

If you have any questions about becoming an egg donor and the egg donation process, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced specialists by clicking here.

If you are considering about becoming an egg donor, please click here.

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