STUDY QUESTION: What do identifiable sperm donors feel about psychosocial counselling?
SUMMARY ANSWER: Identifiable sperm
donors found it important that psychosocial counselling focused on emotional consequences and on rules and regulations and
they expected to have access to psychosocial counselling at the time that donor-offspring actually sought contact.
IS KNOWN ALREADY: Most studies on sperm donors are on anonymous donors and focus on recruitment, financial compensation, anonymity
and motivations. There is limited knowledge on the value that identifiable sperm donors place on psychosocial counselling
and what their needs are in this respect.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE AND DURATION: We performed a qualitative study from March
until June 2014 with 25 identifiable sperm donors, who were or had been a donor at the Centre for Reproductive Medicine of
the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam any time between 1989 and 2014.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING AND METHODS:
We held semi-structured in-depth interviews with identifiable sperm donors with an average age of 44 years. The interviews
were fully transcribed and analysed using the constant comparative method of grounded theory.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE
OF CHANGE: Twelve out of 15 donors (former donors ITALIC! n = 8, active donors ITALIC! n = 7) who had received a counselling
session during their intake procedure found it important that they had been able to talk about issues such as the emotional
consequences of donation, disclosure to their own children, family and friends, future contact with donor-offspring and rules
and regulations. Of the 10 former donors who had received no counselling session, 8 had regretted the lack of intensive counselling.
In the years following their donation, most donors simply wanted to know how many offspring had been born using their sperm
and had no need for further counselling. Nevertheless, they frequently mentioned that they were concerned about the well-being
of 'their' offspring. In addition, they would value the availability of psychosocial counselling in the event that donor-offspring
actually sought contact.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: A limitation of our study is its generalizability, since only
a small number of identifiable donors at a single centre were studied. Variation in how donors are counselled upon intake
may affect how donors value psychosocial counselling.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: This study reports on the issues
that identifiable donors value being addressed during their intake procedure, as well as during counselling in the event that
donor-offspring actually seek contact. These findings can be used to achieve a higher quality of care for identifiable sperm
donors and may be the starting point for developing guidelines on psychosocial counselling for sperm donors.
INTERESTS: No funding was obtained for this study. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.