• Dr. Lisa Benton

Psychological Evaluations for Egg Donors, Egg Recipients, and Gestational Surrogates

Infertility is a common problem, but research has shown that 85-90% of fertility challenges can be successfully addressed with medical intervention. Sometimes, couples decide to use an egg donor during In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). If cases where the mother to be is deemed medically unable to carry a baby, a gestational surrogate may be needed. Couples who decide to use an egg donor and/or a gestational surrogate may be surprised to learn that all parties are often required to undergo psychological evaluation with a licensed Psychologist.

Planning to have a child with the help of an egg donor requires full collaboration between three different people. Egg donors are required to undergo extensive medical testing and psychological evaluation to provide the most accurate information to hopeful parents. The psychological evaluation is used to gather detailed family history and personal information which may be relevant in determining biological patterns. The interview will focus on identifying any family psychiatric history, and even family members who may have exhibited signs of undiagnosed mental illness. The Psychologist will also ask questions about the egg donor’s educational history to assess for any signs of learning disorders. All of this information helps match the egg donor with the best fit parents to be.

Another reason it is important for egg donors to undergo psychological evaluation is to confirm that the necessary cognitive skills are in place to make this decision. Egg donors are offering a priceless, lifetime gift to another couple which requires a specific understanding of legal and personal boundaries. The egg donor must have the mental capacity to understand any long term psychological effects of this decision.

Egg recipients are also usually required to undergo psychological evaluation for similar reasons. How will the couple feel about having a child that is not 100% genetically their own? It is important to verify that both partners have the necessary cognitive skills to understand this decision, and that each partner has a clear commitment to the child as their own.

Gestational surrogates are also required to undergo psychological evaluations by most surrogacy agencies. Gestational surrogates are the people who truly bring a couple’s imagined child to life, an miraculous gift to hopeful parents. The evaluation will determine any personal history which may be relevant to the surrogate’s commitment and ability to lead a healthy lifestyle during the pregnancy. Questions are usually asked to determine any history of substance or alcohol abuse, psychiatric history, or self destructive behaviors. It is also important to identify any environmental factors which could affect the pregnancy. Like egg donors, gestational surrogates must have the cognitive ability to understand any future psychological effects of her decision and the finality of her gift after delivery.

Psychological evaluations are usually an opportunity to ask questions or voice any uncertainty regarding any of these commitments. Helping hopeful parents have a child is a gift that few can give, and the evaluation is intended to insure that both parties feel comfortable with this life long commitment. If you are considering becoming an egg donor, an egg donor recipient, or a gestational surrogate.....congratulations! I can provide the necessary psychological evaluation to help you along with the process and would be honored to be part of your parent journey.

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