Oocyte Donation: Psychological Aspects

  • Linda D. ApplegarthEmail author


This chapter reviews historical and current literature pertaining to the psychological aspects of oocyte (egg) donation, and describes the psychological counseling, consultation, and assessment issues that arise for both oocyte donors and recipients. The mental health professional’s role in working with this unique population is addressed, particularly with respect to providing psychosocial education regarding donor selection (anonymity vs. non-anonymity) as it impacts both donor and recipient parties. Also provided are evaluation protocols that are appropriate to these treatment groups, including criteria for inclusion or exclusion from treatment. The goal is to foster and maintain the psychological and emotional well-being of all parties involved. The importance of pre-treatment screening and counseling is underscored. Lastly, the collaborative role of the mental health professional in conjunction with the medical treatment team, and other groups, is discussed.


oocyte donation oocyte donor donor oocyte recipient psychological aspects evaluation assessment anonymous non-anonymous psychological counseling collaboration 


  1. 1.
    Schover LR, Reis J, Collins RL, Blankenstein J, Kanoti G, Quigley MM. The psychological evaluation of ovum donors. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 1990;11:299–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Schover LR, Collins RL, Quigley MM. Psychological follow-up of women evaluated as oocyte donors. Hum Reprod. 1991;6:1487–91.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sydsjo G, Lampic C, Brandstrom S, Grandmundsson J, Karlstrom PO, Solensten NG, et al. Personality characteristics in a Swedish national sample of identifiable oocyte donors. BJOG. 2011;118(9):1067–72.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Klock SC, Covington SN. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) profiles in the assessment of ovum donors. Fertil Steril. 2010;94(5): 1684–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Williams KE, Stemmle PG, Westphal LM, Rasgon NL. Mood disorders in oocyte donor candidates: brief report and implications for future research. Hum Reprod. 2011;26(4):847–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Klock SC, Stout JE, Davidson M. Psychological characteristics and factors related to willingness to donate again among anonymous oocyte donors. Fertil Steril. 2003;79(6):1312–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Purewal S, van den Akker OB. Systematic review of oocyte donation: investigating attitudes, motivations and experiences. Hum Reprod Update. 2009;13(5): 499–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jordan CB, Belar CD, Williams RS. Anonymous oocyte donation: a follow-up analysis of donors’ experiences. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2004; 22(7):2040–50.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kalfoglou AL, Gittelsohn J. A qualitative follow-up study of women’s experiences with oocyte donation. Hum Reprod. 2000;15:798–805.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kenny NJ, McGowan ML. Looking back: egg donor’s retrospective evaluations of their motivations, expectations, and experiences during their first donation cycle. Fertil Steril. 2010;93(2):455–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hershberger P. Recipients of oocyte donation: an integrative review. JOGNN. 2004;33(5):610–21.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Baetens P, Devroey P, Camus M, Van Steirteghem AC, Ponjaert-Kristoffersen I. Counselling couples and donors for oocyte donation: the decision to use either known or anonymous oocytes. Hum Reprod. 2000;15(2):476–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Stuart-Smith SJ, Smith JA, Scott EJ. To know or not to know? Dilemmas for women receiving unknown oocyte donation. Hum Reprod. 2012;27(7): 2067–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Laruelle C, Place I, Demeestere I, Englert Y, Delbaere A. Anonymity and secrecy options of recipient couples and donors, and ethnic origin influence in three types of oocyte donation. Hum Reprod. 2011;26(2): 382–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Applegarth LD, Kingsberg SA. The donor as patient: assessment and support. In: Covington SN, Burns LH, editors. Infertility counseling: a comprehensive handbook for clinicians. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK, New York: Cambridge University Press; 2006. p. 339–55.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine; Practice Committee of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Recommendations for gamete and embryo donation: a committee opinion. Fertil Steril. 2013;99:47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Almeling R. Sex cells: the medical market for eggs and sperm. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press; 2011.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Schrover LR. Psychological aspects of oocyte donation. Infertil Reprod Med Clin North Am. 1993;4: 483–502.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Baetens P. Oocyte donation. In: Boivin J, Kentenich H, editors. ESHRE monographs: guidelines on infertility counselling. London: Oxford University Press; 2002. p. 33–4.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Tarlatzis BC, Pados G. Oocyte donation: clinical and practical aspects. Mod Cell Endocrinol. 2000;161: 99–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sachs PI, Burns LB. Recipient counseling for oocyte donation. In: Covington SN, Burns LH, editors. Infertility counseling: a comprehensive handbook for clinicians. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK, New York: Cambridge University Press; 2006. p. 319–38.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Covington SN. Infertility counseling in practice: a collaborative reproductive healthcare model. In: Covington SN, Burns LH, editors. Infertility counseling: a comprehensive handbook for clinicians. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK, New York: Cambridge University Press; 2006. p. 493–507.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive MedicineRonald O. Perelman-Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive MedicineNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations