Sperm and egg donors are happy to be contacted

New research shows that the vast majority of those who donate eggs or sperm would be prepared to have contact with their offspring.

Children of the world. Photo: Robyn Jay, cc-by-nc-sa
Children of the world. Photo: Robyn Jay, cc-by-nc-sa

The legislation concerning sensitive information associated with sperm and egg donation differs between countries. In Sweden, children resulting from sperm or egg donation have the right to learn the identity of the donor when they reach maturity, usually interpreted as 18 years old. Although Swedish donors have accepted offspring’s right to information and the possibility of future contact, it is still unclear how best to make such contact.

In a new study, 210 donors were asked for their thoughts 5–8 years after their donation. The results show that a majority of egg and sperm donors have a positive attitude to the idea of being contacted by their offspring, while very few reported that they would prefer not to be contacted.

There was no association between the openness to contact and the donors’ gender, age, ambivalence prior to donation or whether the donor had children of their own. This differs from previous studies in which sperm donors have reported greater ambivalence than egg donors, which was in turn related to lower subsequent satisfaction with having donated.

Different ideas and preferences

Claudia Lampic, photo: Martin Stenmark

The donors had different ideas and preferences about whether they wanted to be informed that someone had requested to learn their identity. One reason for not wanting to be informed could be to avoid waiting in vain in case the offspring chooses not to make contact.

One quarter of participants expressed a need for counselling concerning how to handle any future contact.

“I hope that the results contribute to greater understanding of the donors’ perspective and greater preparedness to offer support to those donors who request it. You see, donating eggs or sperm doesn’t just have consequences for the donor and the resulting child, but can also be significant for the donor’s own family,” says Claudia Lampic, researcher at Karolinska Institutet, who has worked on the study.

Text: Ola Danielsson, first published in the magazine Medical Science 2015.

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