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How to Make Decisions about Egg and Sperm Donation

Making Decisions about Egg and Sperm Donation

If you have been struggling with infertility, you have probably already figured out that as your reality changes, so do your perceptions of your options. How many of you once thought, "I'll never do infertility drugs?" By now you may be a veteran of many medicated cycles. As you traveled down one path, you discovered that options which once seemed daunting or disturbing could actually have become attractive.

Never Say Never

You have probably figured this out as well. It is easy to say you will never do this, or never do that, but as we said before, as your reality changes, so do your decisions. Remember also, that not yet does not mean never. For instance, your partner may say "Not yet" to something that you think you want to do. Listen carefully to your partner, talk openly about your concerns, and repeat after us, "Not yet is not never."

Husbands and Wives Move at Different Paces and This Is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

If you are like most couples facing decisions about using donated ova or sperm, one of you will be ready to consider this alternative path to parenthood before the other. When this happens, the person who wants to move forward is often upset and angry with the one who says, "I'm not ready" or "We need to try…again."

You are perhaps puzzled by our saying that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Couples often have a way of balancing each other. One of you can sound—and feel—eager to explore options beyond conventional treatment in part because you know that your partner will slow you down and help insure that you make wise, informed decisions. Similarly, you who are trailing at the rear can afford to take it slowly because you know from past experience that your spouse is well prepared to take the lead.

Your History Will Inform Your Decision Making
You and your partner have different histories as well as a shared one. Inevitably, decisions about using donated ova, sperm, surrogacy and other options will be shaped by your past experiences. If your favorite cousins were adopted, you will have one set of associations about adoption. If the worst trouble maker in your elementary school was adopted, you will have different notions about people who joined their family through adoption. If you were a birthmother and placed a child in adoption, your feelings about adoption will be influenced by this experience, and if your cousin's daughter was a program-recruited oocyte donor, you will have her as a reference point for egg donation. Be prepared for significant losses to help shape your perceptions of each of these options.

Evelina Sterling, PhD is the co-author of several women's health books, including Having Your Baby through Egg Donation (Perspective Press, 2005) and Budgeting for Infertility: How to Bring Home a Baby without Breaking the Bank (Simon & Schuster 2009).


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