Choosing to donate your eggs can come with a combination of excitement and nervousness as you embark on this new journey. It is incredibly admirable that you have chosen to help a couple or individual build their family by providing healthy eggs for them to use in their fertility treatments. You are most likely learning the many components that go into being approved for egg donation. While most women find egg donation to be generally positive, it is still a lengthy and involved process, which can impact your overall health. Even if you are found to be physically healthy, you may still not be eligible for egg donation if you do not meet specific psychological guidelines. Therefore, one of the steps you must undergo is a psychological evaluation.
Just as you need a physical evaluation to see if your body can produce enough eggs and endure the egg retrieval process, the psychological assessment determines whether you are psychologically healthy and have the necessary coping skills to support you during the journey. Your psychologist will also ensure you fully understand all potential impacts of egg donation on your physical and mental health, as well as ethical considerations. Talking with a psychologist and undergoing this evaluation gives you space to think about the impact of egg donation on your health and current life and whether egg donation is the right choice for you.
The psychological evaluation of egg donors at Ebb & Flow Counseling + Coaching is a two-step process consisting of a clinical interview and psychological testing. This allows us to get the best picture of your psychological health, motivations, coping style, and expectations for your egg donation journey.
Egg Donor Psychological Evaluation: The Clinical Interview
Our clinicians at Ebb & Flow Counseling + Coaching follow the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines. The clinical interview is conducted via telehealth (video). In this video session, we will ask about your motivations for becoming an egg donor and your hopes and expectations for the process. Questions will range from medical and psychiatric history to life events or stressors that shape your personality and interactions with the world. You will be asked about difficult or traumatic reproductive history, interpersonal relationships, sexual history, history of major psychiatric and personality disorders, substance abuse in donor or first-degree relatives, legal history, and history of abuse or neglect. We will also assess the social support in your life and who will be there for you as you take on this new journey as an egg donor. Perhaps most importantly, psychological evaluation allows you to better consider the possible short-term and long-term impacts of egg donation, which may have potential subsequent physical, mental, and ethical ramifications.
Egg Donor Psychological Evaluation: Personality Testing
After completing the clinical interview, the next step in this screening process is to complete the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). This assessment will be emailed to you for online administration, which will take approximately one hour to complete. The PAI consists of 344 questions rated on a 4-point true/false scale. Your answers on mood, stress, alcohol/drug use, anger management, and interpersonal style questions give us information about different characteristics of your personality.
This screening tool is compared with your clinical interview to provide the most accurate assessment. Once completed, a report on your psychological evaluation will be sent to your agency or clinic. Any concerns about the PAI results or your candidacy as an egg donor will be discussed with your referring clinic, and the next steps will be determined.
According to ASRM guidelines, potential egg donors may be excluded from donating if there is a history of any of the following:
Heritable psychiatric disorders
Two or more first-degree relatives with substance abuse
Use of psychotropic medications
Sexual or physical abuse history with no professional treatment
High-risk sexual practices
If one or more of the above is true for you, this does not mean there is something “wrong” with you; however, your genetics (DNA) would not meet the qualifications that a fertility clinic or intended parents would be looking for in creating their future child.
Ebb & Flow is Here for you Throughout this Process
The psychological evaluation is important in determining someone’s candidacy to become an egg donor. By examining your psychological health, family history, social support, coping style, and more, we can discern if you meet ASRM guidelines for egg donation. Likewise, you will have the opportunity to thoroughly learn about the process and its benefits and risks and determine if it is the right choice for you. Egg donors must commit much time and availability to attend all screenings, monitoring appointments, and egg retrieval. The length and demands of the process can be stressful and impact your physical and mental health. If your psychological evaluation determines that you are in good psychological health, you’ll likely be able to handle any stressful situations.
While a psychological evaluation might sound daunting, our team of clinicians will walk you through each step of the process and answer any question that arises.
Our Clinicians at Ebb & Flow Counseling + Coaching
Dr. Jennifer Collins is the Owner of Ebb & Flow and a seasoned licensed psychologist. She is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and its Mental Health Professional Group. She consistently attends the annual Jefferson Infertility Counseling Conference. Dr. Collins has been licensed as a psychologist since 2011. She has worked for many years in women’s health and infertility. She conducts Psychological Evaluations for Egg Donors and Gestational Carriers. She also provides 3rd party reproduction consultations for intended parents using donor sperm, donor egg, or donor embryo. She has an excellent understanding of the 3rd party reproduction process and will make you feel at ease.
Dr. Rachel Brookland is an early career licensed psychologist who has been trained and mentored by Dr. Collins for the past five years. She is a highly skilled clinician specializing in women’s and maternal mental health. She is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and its Mental Health Professional Group. She conducts Psychological Evaluations for Egg Donors and Gestational Carriers and 3rd party reproduction consultations for intended parents using donor sperm, donor egg, or donor embryo. Her experience working alongside an OB/GYN department within a health system provides a unique understanding of women’s health and reproductive medicine.
Gabriela Bevacqua-Collins is a Master’s student in Clinical Psychology at Penn State University, Capital campus. She administers the online psychological assessment component of the GC psychological evaluations and scores/interprets the PAI.