One of the questions I get asked the most is about our donor screening. How thoroughly do we screen our donors? What does the screening entail?
We screen them very strictly. Some aspects of our egg donor screening process are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some is just what we feel is appropriate and necessary. In all, we screen our egg donors three times:
- When they apply
- When they are matched with intended parents
- Before they start ovulation stimulation medications
Each stage of screening involves different types of testing. The purpose of this multi-pronged approach is to ensure the donor can offer recipients the best possible chance at a healthy pregnancy and to make sure the donor is not at risk of complications that can arise from the donation process.
Stage 1: Applying to Be an Egg Donor
When a donor applies to participate in our program, they complete an application online, followed by a very thorough health history questionnaire on our portal. Then, they meet with one of our physicians and undergo cycle day three testing, which includes an ultrasound and a blood test that measures key fertility-related hormones, including:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone
- Luteinizing hormone
- Anti-Mullerian hormone
Next, prospective donors have a phone interview with a genetic counselor who reviews all of their family medical history. Finally, each prospective egg donor has an evaluation with a psychologist. Once we are satisfied that an individual meets our standards, they are added to our egg donor database.
Stage 2: Post-Match Testing and Screening
Egg donors complete more testing once they are matched with a recipient couple. This includes a repeat of all the day-three testing done during the initial screening, plus additional tests, including:
- Complete blood count (detects anemia and other issues) and blood typing
- Comprehensive metabolic panel (rules out liver and kidney diseases, along with other ailments)
- Blood clotting tests to evaluate the risk of serious bleeding during retrieval surgery
- Drug and nicotine screening
- Infectious disease panel
- Sexually transmitted disease testing (gonorrhea and chlamydia)
In addition, each donor's DNA is tested to see if they carry any of the following disease-causing mutations:
- Beta thalassemia
- Bloom syndrome
- Canavan disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Familial dysautonomia
- Fanconi anemia type C
- Fragile X syndrome
- Gaucher disease
- Hexosaminidase A deficiency
- Mucolipidosis IV
- Niemann-Pick disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Tay-Sachs disease
Stage 3: Pre-Stimulation Screening
Finally, prior to starting ovulation stimulation, the donor comes in for an appointment that involves:
- Another ultrasound
- Estradiol and progesterone levels
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia re-testing
- Nucleic acid testing (NAT)
NAT testing is a much more sophisticated test than the regular infectious disease panel. NAT tests amplify and detect the target sequences located in specific genes of the infectious diseases.
The Egg Donor Contract
All this screening and testing probably seems like a lot. Honestly, it is! That's because we want to do our best to ensure that the donor is healthy and does not pose any health risk to her recipients or to the potential child that would be born from her donation.
As thorough as we are, we cannot watch our donors twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They do sign a contract before beginning a donation cycle that aims to reduce the risk of developing a condition that can jeopardize their eggs. In part, this contract states that the donor agrees to:
- Abstain from intercourse, or use a non-hormonal (barrier) form of contraception of birth control with their current partner
- Notify our staff if they engage in intercourse with a new partner(s),
- Refrain from all use of recreational drugs, alcohol and tobacco
- Minimize their exposure to second hand smoke
- Not acquire any new or expanded body piercings or tattoos
- Postpone any non-emergency surgery or medical procedure
- Notify our staff if any emergency medical procedure is required
- Not start any new prescription, over the counter medication, and/or herbal preparations throughout the duration of her cycle.
Even with all of our testing and their commitment to the program, problems still arise. Sometimes cycles have to get cancelled based off a test result through no fault of the donor. We cannot guarantee that our donors will always have good test results, nor can we guarantee that even if everything does come back looking good, that she will have a good retrieval or that pregnancy will be achieved.
However, thorough and careful egg donor screening and vetting gives everyone the best possible chance for a good result!
See Our Egg Donor Database
We are one of the few fertility clinics in the country to run an in-house egg donation program. All of our donors have been personally screened by us. Click the button below to get access to our database today!