By Cristina Mestre Ferrer BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 07/03/2014

A very often asked question by potential parents who undergo an ovodonation treatment is if the mental health of the donor has been previously checked.

The Spanish law on Assisted Reproduction is very taxative regarding the genetically transmitted physical diseases that must be ruled out. This is not the case for mental diseases, since only the nonspecific term good psycho-physical health is included in the law.

Many patients are not satisfied with such demand because they do not really know what good psycho-physical health stands for. In order to dispel those doubts, the Focus Group in Psychology of the Spanish Fertility Society has determined the main areas to explore in each donor, therefore establishing their adequacy to the process, and eventually providing a set of general recommendations. The analyzed aspects are mentiones hereafter.

Current situation

  • Current emotional state tracing more than 40 possible symptoms of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolarity.
  • Degree of stability according to job, resources, residency, affective and intimate relations, family and social support networks, etc.

Psychiatric history

  • Incidence of disorders such as anxiety, depression, neurosis, obsessive-compulsive disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia…
  • If the donor is currently taking or has taken psychiatric medication (anxiolytics, antidepressants, sleep pills…).
  • Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia.
  • Suicide attempts.
  • Drug addictions.

Family history (parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles)

  • Previous cases of diseases such as Down Syndrome, mental retardation, epilepsy, autism, hyperactivity, early-stage Alzheimer…
  • History of suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism…
  • History of psychological o psychiatric disorders.
  • If they have been treated or hospitalised by mental health reasons.

Psycological history

  • If the donor has overcome life crisis and how the donor faced these moments; if the donor has achieved or is in his or her way to achieve his or her goals, or else, why the donor has not done so. To check if the donor is or has been a stable individual and comes from a structured familty.
  • Study of personality: positive or negative approach to life, decision-making, self-esteem, self-confidence…

Lifestyle

  • Diet: if it is balanced, complete, and healthy. The weight is measured to assess if the donor has a healthy weight according to his or her body composition.
  • Sleeping patterns: if it is regular, appropriate or if there is any disorder (insomnia, night terrors or nightmares, wakefulness…)
  • Drug abuse: alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc.
  • Leisure: hobbies, sports, social life…
  • Safe sex practices.

Willingness to become a donor

  • What drove that person to be a donor.
  • What would be the position of the donor with regard to what he or she is doning and with the potential newborn as a result of the donation.
  • If the decision has been notified to his relatives and closest friends, and what do they think about it.

Additionally, it should be checked if the donors are adopted. If so, the familiar tracing could not be performed, therefore excluding the potential donor from the process. The donor is asked as well if he or she has been previously a donor. Moreover, donors are obligued to certify the veracity of all the information they have conveyed, being duly informed of the legal consequences of providing untruthful data.

Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information