Exploring Infertile Couples’ Decisions to Disclose Donor Conception to The Future Child

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine, Social Development and Health Promotion Research Centre, Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Gonabad, Iran

2 Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Centre, Department of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Nursing and Midwifery Care Research Centre, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

4 Department of Midwifery, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Background: Despite significant advances in reproductive technology, using donor assisted reproductive technology
is a double-edged sword that has numerous challenges. One of the most challenging issues for couples is whether or
not to disclose this information to donor offspring. This study, therefore, explored infertile couples’ decision to disclose
donor conception to their future child.
Materials and Methods: This qualitative study was conducted using content analysis approach in 2012 in the Milad
Infertility Centre, Mashhad, Iran. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 32 infertile persons
including nine couples and 14 women who were selected by purposive sampling. Data were analysed by conventional
qualitative content analysis adopted by Graneheim and Lundman using MAXQDA 2010 software.
Results: Two categories were emerged: ‘not to disclose information to the child’ and ‘to disclose information to
the child’. The first category consisted of three subcategories: 1. child support from probable harms; 2.to maintain
healthy family relationships; and 3. lack of a compelling reason to disclose this information. The second category
embraced four subcategories: 1. awareness of the others; 2. emergence of new living conditions; 3. appreciation for
the donor; and 4. honesty among family members. The main reason for not disclosing information was to protect the
child from probable harm.
Conclusion: Although protecting children from possible harms was a major reason for infertile couples' secrecy,
keeping this secret would not be always easy. Therefore, increasing public awareness about the donation process in
order to change the beliefs of community and eliminate the infertile couples’ concerns would help them to overcome
this problem. Additionally, long-term psychological counselling during and after the donation process is highly recommended.