Gamete donation: How does it affect my emotions?

When is a donation of gametes necessary to become parents?  Whether you haven’t asked this question or you’re currently considering it, in this article, we’re going to talk about gamete donation and its implications for one’s emotions.

According to data from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics, in 2017, Spanish women had their first child four years later than the average woman around the world.  One of the consequences of waiting to become parents is an increase in the probability of requiring the donation of gametes.  With the passage of time, both the number and quality of ova and sperm decrease, and with those decreases comes a decrease in fertility.

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Data from the Spanish Society of Fertility (“SEF” in Spanish) shows that at the age of 40, the probability of achieving a pregnancy during any given menstrual cycle for a healthy woman is 5%, in comparison with a 20% chance at age 30.  As a result, the majority of pregnancies facilitated by assisted reproduction in women over the age of 42 happen because of gamete donation.  If you’d like to learn more about the theme, you can consult this brochure created by the SEF about fertility and the age of the woman.

Additionally, we recommend that you consult with your gynecologist about any doubt that you have about your fertility.  A team of gynecological experts in fertility is the best source of information that you could contact.

What happens if my ova and sperm aren’t high-quality?

When the quality of the woman’s or man’s gametes is low, s/he can turn to the fertility treatment of gamete donation.  Both artificial insemination (AI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF), along with other reproductive techniques, allow the use of gametes from a donor.

In the case of the woman, she can turn to the donation of ova if she doesn’t have enough ova, if their quality isn’t high enough, or if she’s a carrier of a genetic disorder.  In the case of the man, it is recommended that he turn to sperm donation when his sperm isn’t viable, he has a genetic illness, or when he doesn’t have a romantic partner.

In practice, the treatment is similar to one using one’s own sperm or ova.  Your gynecologist will tell you about which treatment is most suitable for your particular case.

Emotional implications

For homosexual female partners or women without partners, accepting a donation of male gametes can be difficult, even if they’ve they’ve always known it would have to happen.  When one has to accept the substitution of one’s own gametes for the gametes of a third party, adapting can prove difficult.

Doubts, fears, and prejudices can arise due to the lack of information about this type of treatment and its implications.  Moreover, societal myths about gamete donation transmit false information that creates fear and confusion amongst future parents.  The most common worries tend to be ethical questions, concerns about the physical and psychological characteristics of the donors, and qualms based on religious beliefs.

The donors

The Spanish Law about Techniques of Assisted Reproduction 14/2006 indicates that the donation of gametes is altruistic, anonymous, and voluntary.  That is to say, donors complete a donation because of their own conviction and because they want to help others to become parents.  Additionally, the revelation of any personal data about the donors to the future parents is strictly prohibited.  They have to be between 18 and 35 years old, in the case of women, and between 18 and 50 in the case of men.  Only people who pass an evaluation of physical- and psychological health administered by the clinic’s medical team can be accepted to make a donation.

Genetic inheritance

Becoming parents of one’s own biological children is a really important milestone for many couples, so having to rely on donated gametes normally isn’t the first choice.

In fact, it is normal to fantasize about the physical- and psychological traits that one’s future children will inherit: “They’ll get my brown eyes” and “I hope they’re early risers like I am” are entirely normal thoughts to have.  In cases of gamete donation, though, one or both members of the partnership won’t contribute their genetic material to the future baby.

Concerns about the loss of genetic heritage tend to be related to the relationship and attachment that the future child will develop.  It is easy to feel worried that the child will reject you or that s/he’ll want to find her/his biological parent.  It is also normal to feel anxious about the contact between one’s own gametes and those of a stranger.  Because the genetic link is something that the majority of partners consider important, it is recommended that you receive medical counsel and emotional support to make a decision that fits with your particular case.

Material to explain to your child his/her origin

Even though the decision ultimately rests with every individual person, numerous studies conducted with children born through gamete donation indicate that explaining the children’s origins to them is important for their identities and self-esteem.  Below, we list six books that are available to help children understand their familial diversity and the different methods of conceiving a child.

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  • Mi regalo de vida chiquitito (An Itsy Bitsy Gift of Life)

Author: Carmen Martínez Jover, 2011

 

  • Mi familia (My Family)

Authors: Cristina Losantos y Clínica Dexeus, 2018

 

  • Receta para hacer bebés (Recipe for Making Babies)

Author: Carmen Martínez Jover, 2011

 

  • Mi pequeño milagro (My Little Miracle)

Author: África Huertas, 2017

 

  • La vaca que puso un huevo (The Cow That Laid An Egg)

Author: Andy Cutbill, 2008

 

  • Cloe quiere ser mamá (Cloe Wants To Be A Mother)

Author: Rosa Maestro, 2012

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In conclusion, this article explores a really important decision for many couples.  Confronting the idea of utilizing donated gametes requires full knowledge of the situation and a lot of emotional support.  If you find yourself in that situation, or if you’re thinking about utilizing donated gametes, don’t hesitate to contact our team at ifeel or consult with your gynecologist.

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