When choosing your egg donor, there are so many things that you will consider. You may want your egg donor to be the same ethnicity or have similar features to you. Or be amazing at math and science. Or you may connect to the way the donor talks about herself in her profile. You may feel a connection to a profile for no apparent or explainable reason. One thing is a given – you want to ensure that your egg donor is healthy and does not have any serious hereditary medical or psychological conditions running in her family, which could affect the health of your future child. We absolutely get it. Here at Santa Monica Fertility, we have strict qualification criteria for our egg donors, and we pass each candidate through a comprehensive egg donor screening process. We accept less than 3% of all applicants into our egg donation program.
The online application is the first step in our egg donor screening process. Although it is only a short form that can be completed in minutes, it is crucial and allows our coordinators to screen out many candidates who do not meet our egg donor qualifications. Women who would like to donate eggs with us provide their basic information like height, weight, ethnicity and any medical, psychological, or genetic conditions that they – or anyone in their family – may have.
After we accept the initial online application, our egg donation coordinator talks with the potential egg donor to confirm the information provided, and to understand more about her situation and motivation to donate eggs. We explain our egg donation program, the commitment that egg donation takes and answer all the questions that may arise. Prospective egg donors will then fill out a detailed profile and medical questionnaire. This form focuses on information about the potential egg donor’s medical, psychological, and reproductive history as well as their personality, interests, and passions. The form also has questions regarding the medical history of the donor’s family. The egg donor profile form is more than just a series of questions, it is an opportunity for a prospective egg donor to showcase who they are as a person and what it means for them to donate eggs.
Once we review and approve the completed paperwork, we move on to a series of egg donor screening tests and physical exams, as outlined below:
We perform the core of the above tests here at Santa Monica Fertility Clinic, which is great news for everyone involved. We get to meet all egg donors that we work with and build a trusting relationship. We really get to know each egg donor and who they are as a person. When featuring an egg donor in the online Donor Egg Bank – our online egg donor database, we display photos that accurately represent the egg donor’s appearance.
We invite each prospective egg donor to visit our clinic for a medical screening. The first step in the medical screening is meeting with our fertility specialist to discuss the process of donating eggs and the potential egg donor’s medical, psychological and reproductive history. The medical screening and consultation is our chance to learn more about each candidate and their motivation for becoming an egg donor. It is also an opportunity for the potential egg donor to talk with a member of our team and ask any questions that they may have about the egg donation process.
Fertility is complex, and while the age and general health screening of an egg donor give doctors a good estimate of her fertility, only an ultrasound can determine the potential donor’s ovarian reserve (the approximate number of egg follicles they have in their ovaries). We perform a transvaginal ultrasound on any potential egg donor to ensure that she may qualify for our shared egg donation program. Since we are dealing with human bodies, there are no guarantees on how a woman will respond to egg donor medications. However, the follicle count gives our doctors a good indication of the number of eggs that the egg donor may produce.
Like an ultrasound, a blood test is a way for our medical team to get precise details on the health of a potential egg donor. Using a blood test, we check for infectious diseases, like STIs, including HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis. We also check their genes for markers of certain inherited diseases, like spinal muscular atrophy and cystic fibrosis. Different ethnic groups may also have a higher risk for certain hereditary conditions, so our team might order specific genetic tests based on the egg donor’s ethnic background. Some common examples are testing for sickle cell disease in African, African-American, or Mediterranean donors, thalassemia in Indian donors, and Tay-Sachs disease in Ashkenazi Jewish donors.
A urine test is a simple tool that our doctors use to check the egg donor’s body for additional STIs such as active gonorrhea and chlamydia.
All prospective egg donors undergo a thorough psychological screening with a psychologist. This screening ensures that each egg donor is mentally fit to be an egg donor and fully understands the egg donation process. While egg donation is safe and highly regulated, it can still be an emotionally taxing journey. We want to make sure that each potential egg donor is ready and that they have an excellent support system in place
We ask all our potential egg donors to undergo genetic counseling. The genetic counselor discusses the potential egg donor’s family history of disease, the ethnicity of their extended family members, and any other significant hereditary traits. This meeting is another opportunity for us to learn more about the egg donors we work with so we can share as much as possible with you.