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Emotional Factors

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Making the decision to proceed with donor insemination usually comes after some difficulty. Typically, couples or women who opt for donor insemination must undergo counseling prior to the procedure. Counseling can help with dealing with feelings of loss or grief as well as preparing for future emotional considerations in the DI process and in raising a child conceived through donor insemination.

Grief and loss

Couples who sought to start a family must deal with the loss of a regular conception free of medical interventions, testing or intrusions. Single women who choose DI must recognize the loss of a simple storybook birth complete with Prince Charming. Lesbian couples will face the loss of privacy afforded heterosexual couples who have babies medically unassisted.

Some people have an easier time processing and facing these types of grief than others. Undergoing counseling enables them to talk and think the issues through and resolve them prior to starting the DI process.

Genetic issues

When a man plans a pregnancy with his partner that involves DI, the issues are similar to those of adoptive parents. He will be raising a child that shares his wife's DNA, but not his own. He needs to be comfortable with this fact and confident in his ability to raise a child biologically connected to another man. Counseling can help couples talk out any issues or face any fears yet not voiced.


It can be frustrating to require medical interventions and the loss of privacy that comes as a result. Other couples have the option to conceive their child naturally and privately and that can be an issue couples must resolve prior to starting the DI process.


Often donor insemination families feel uncomfortable sharing any more of their reproductive life than necessary. The resulting secrecy can lead to emotions rather like shame. This is not unlike adoptive family experiences, particularly early adoptions where secrecy was the norm. Learning more about other donor insemination families and how they dealt with talking about their conception and with whom can can helpful.

Moral/ethical and religious concerns

Some families struggle with questions of the morality or religious grounds of donor insemination whether they have some issues of their own or must deal with those of close friends or family members, or perhaps members of their church family. Understanding why the couple or mother has chosen DI and how it relates to their faith or values is an important task for many DI families.

Issues facing the children

Counseling can also help families prepare for how to talk to their children about their conception and their feelings about the sperm donor. Children may have differing needs for information especially at different ages, and for some the loss of a connection to a biological parent is painful or difficult. Preparation for these potential issues can help parents face the issues when they arise.


Sometimes one parent is more comfortable with pursuing DI than the other. That doesn't mean that DI is wrong for the couple necessarily, but rather that more talking through needs to be done. Counseling sometimes allows for the airing of secret thoughts or fears that have been pushed aside. Occasionally one parent will be going along with the other's desires to pursue donor insemination despite their own ambivalence about the process. If this becomes obvious, more counseling should be pursued until the issues are clearly resolved. Couples must be in complete agreement and ready to go forward with donor insemination together. Counseling can help couples work through questions and misgivings and resolve their differences.

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