In Sweden, couples can become parents with donated oocytes and sperm. The resulting child will have a genetic link to only one of the parents, and will also have genetic links to persons outside the family unit. Sweden is one of relatively few countries that grants donor-conceived offspring the legal right to obtain identifying information about the donor. The present project investigates the psychological aspects of donating oocytes or sperm and of building a family with donation treatment.
The overall objective of the project is to investigate the psychosocial aspects of donation treatment for the women and men who donate their oocytes/sperm, and for the resulting families. During 15 years we have followed large groups of donors and couples who underwent donation treatment with surveys and interviews. Results from the project have contributed to developing web-based information about talking with children about their genetic origins, targeted at both parents and health care professionals.
The longitudinal Swedish Study on Gamete Donation (SSGD) is conducted in collaboration with clinics at all university hospitals (in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Uppsala, Linköping, Örebro and Umeå). During 2005-2008 we recruited 300 donors of oocytes or sperm, 896 men and women who started donation treatment, and one comparison group of 302 men and women using standard IVF. Data collection has been performed in several ’waves’, when participants have individually completed postal surveys. We used validated instruments for assessment of e.g. personality, couple relationship, parenting stress, and psychological health, together with study-specific items concerning children’s access to information about their genetic origins.
When Sweden in 1984 became the first country in the world to abolish the use of anonymous sperm donors, critics called this a ’social experiment’. Although several countries later introduced similar legislation, there is limited knowledge about the psychosocial consequences of this type of treatment för the resulting families and the donors (for an overview, see Skoog Svanberg et al., 2020). Results from the project will contribute to the development of clinical practice, including information and support of parents, children and donors.