Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Monday, January 5, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Donor Gamete Inequalities



In thinking about the embryos we have left, our two DS blasts and our six DE 2PNs (day one embryos), I was also thinking about the incredibly different processes for the two types of donors. For the donor eggs, we had to go through a lot of hoops (psychological evaluations! paperwork! high cost!) but ultimately ended up with very little information about our donor--just a one-page profile sheet and we'll never have any more.

In contrast, for the donor sperm, we had to fill out information in a search field on a database and then purchase the sperm. No psychological evaluations, the cost was higher than I thought but a FRACTION of the eggs, and the paperwork was minimal. And we got TONS of information on our donor--we have voice files of interviews, we have physical descriptions and childhood photos, we have questions he answered in written form, and if our child is conceived from this material and decides that he/she wants to meet this donor and have a tete-a-tete in person, once, HE OR SHE CAN DO THAT because he's an open donor.

Now, I get the difference in cost due to the difference in the process to actually, um, extract the gametes. One is an incredibly involved process involving injections and surgery and time off work, and the other involves...less hardship than that, by far.

BUT...why didn't we need a psychological evaluation for sperm? Why is it so easy to get SO MUCH information? What does that say about male contributions versus female contributions? To be honest, it makes me mad, for my husband's sake. It devalues his role, his contribution. It says sperm is less important than egg, doesn't it? That we didn't need to sit and discuss the decision with a mental health professional in order to proceed, just click "add to cart?" Shouldn't the requirements for subbing in donor gametes for either player be the same, on the recipients' end?

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

16 comments:

  1. This is really interesting... I've thought about this whole thing before and am also perplexed at the difference between the two gamete streams ... None of it seems very level... I'm glad you posted this and brought attention to the issue.

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    1. Isn't that strange? Of course this is just our experience, in our neck of the woods, but it seems uneven for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. So interesting to think about all this! I wonder if best practices haven't quite caught up to all that technology can do.

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    1. Agreed, at least not consistently. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  3. Great perspective. It is very narrowing of what males go through in DS situations for sure. It would be nice to have a more universal approach for both. I get that DE is more difficult process for the donor and you don't want them to back out mid-cycle but on the receiving end it's really the same so I agree there is a need to look at this.

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    1. Isn't that interesting? The psychological evaluation is required of the egg donor in part to make sure they understand everything involved, but it was involved for us, too for the same reasons. And not that I want a zillion three hour evaluations, but I would think you'd need to have the same conversations for mourning the loss of male DNA, too... we did our own counseling with our own counselor, but it wasn't required. Weird, eh?

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  4. That is so interesting - I had no idea that purchasing the sperm was so much simpler from a paperwork standpoint. Like you point out, of course the, uh, obtaining of said sperm is simpler biologically speaking, but I can't see why it would differ from a psychological perspective than using donor eggs or donor embryos.

    I think there's definitely something to what you say about devaluing the male contribution. I've noticed a number of times when magazines/papers interview men about their accomplishments, there's very little or no mention of fatherhood, but a woman's motherhood status is often discussed even when the article/accomplishment has nothing to do with motherhood per se. I've many times found myself deeply frustrated that motherhood is so incredibly elevated, but I never really considered the sort of flip-side to that - that fatherhood is somewhat downplayed as a very important influence/factor in a man's life.

    Thanks for calling attention to this - definitely something very important to be discussing.

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    1. I love your middle paragraph! That is so true. So often women are recognized for their motherhood status ABOVE any amazing accomplishments they may have outside that (my favorite example being Kate Winslet photographed next to her new Hollywood Star but the caption for the photo was BODY AFTER BABY! and focused more on that than her recognition for her body of work. argh.). Men deserve the same attention on their fatherhood or lack thereof and the same attention paid to the decisions to forgo that genetic contribution. Great comment! Thanks for your thoughts!

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  5. The only thing I can think of is that it's a longer-standing process (donor sperm vs. donor eggs) and therefore has become looser over time. That we may see something similar happen with donor eggs in the future. Though you're right, the differences in the process are jarring.

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    1. That's true--donor sperm has been around for longer, and some clinics do have similar websites with egg donor profiles to sift through that remind me of my online dating experience. I don't know, I feel like I agree with Inconceivable12 that part of it is gender bias in the differences in how we perceive parenthood for men and women. Jarring is a great word for the differences! Thanks for your thoughts!

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  6. Just as an FYI, when Hubby and I tried with donor sperm here years ago, we were required to have a psychological evaluation and report prepared prior to undergoing treatment. Mind you, I'm in Canada so the process here may be different from where you are. Regardless, it's interesting to note the differences between the two. I would have thought it would be more similar than that.

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    1. That makes me feel better, actually! I'm sure it varies from clinic to clinic, state to state, country to country. I felt my experience was so crazily different it was worth noting for sure, but I'm glad in other places there are similar requirements for the couple who are choosing to utilize donor sperm as donor eggs. Thanks for stopping by and sharing that difference!

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  7. Thinking of you with many loving thoughts...

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  8. This is really interesting. We're friends with a lesbian couple who used DS and they rejected one applicant who had such perfect penmanship that they thought he might be a serial killer!

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    1. Interesting... I could see how getting too much information to analyze could put a wrench in things for sure. I don't think I've ever equated perfect penmanship with serial killers, but as an 8th grade teacher I would gladly take a few possible serial killers to be able to read handwriting with more ease... har har har.

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