Parents’ psychological adjustment after gamete donation: a systematic review


  • Antigoni Sarantaki Midwifery Department, University of West Attica, Athens, Greece
  • Maria Eleni Vogiatzoglou Midwifery Department, University of West Attica, Athens, Greece
  • Stavroula Barbounaki National Merchant Marine Academy of Aspropyrgos, Athens, Greece



Egg donation, Oocyte donor, Psychological adjustment, Motherhood, Parenting


The age factor plays a key role to the successful rates of ARTs protocols. The practical answer to this problem would be the acceptance of an egg, donated by a younger woman, who wants to undergo ovary stimulation, thus offering her cell to a female recipient. This review aims to investigate the psychological adjustment of parents who have used gamete donation, as well as its effect on the psychological adjustment of children in case of disclosing the children’s donor origin. The PubMed and Google Scholar databases were searched for peer reviewed papers, focusing on parents’ psychological adjustment after gamete donation. Key search inclusion criteria included all papers published in English (between 2005 and 2019) relating to investigate the psychological adjustment of parents after gamete donation, as well as its effect on the psychological adjustment of children in case of disclosing the children’s donor origin. These families are possibly expected to be affected by the circumstances of the birth, especially in case of gamete donation or surrogacy, in terms of parents’ thoughts, feelings and behavior towards the child. 

Author Biographies

Antigoni Sarantaki, Midwifery Department, University of West Attica, Athens, Greece

Assistant Professor

Maria Eleni Vogiatzoglou, Midwifery Department, University of West Attica, Athens, Greece

Department of Midwifery

MSc Student

Stavroula Barbounaki, National Merchant Marine Academy of Aspropyrgos, Athens, Greece

PhD, Electrical & Mechanical Engineer, Independent researcher, 


Mascarenchas MN, Flaxman SR, Boerna T. National, regional and global trends in infertility prevalence since 1990: a systematic analysis of 277 health surreys. PLoS Med. 2012;9(12):e1001356

Vayena E, Rowe PJ, Griffin PD. Current practices and controversies in assisted reproduction. report of a meeting on “medical, ethical and social aspects of assisted reproduction. Available at: https://apps. Accessed on 20 April 2021.

Zegers-Hochschild F, Adamson GD, de Mouzon J. International committee for monitoring assisted reproductive technology (ICMART) and the world health organization (WHO) Revised Glossary on ART Terminology. Human Reprod. 2009;24(11): 2683-7.

Greil AL, Infertility and psychological distress: a critical review of the literature. Soc Sci Med. 1997; 45(11):1679-704.

Donkor ES, Sandal J. The impact of perceived stigma and mediating social factors on infertility related stress among women seeking infertility treatment in South Chana. Soc Sci Med. 2007; 65(8):1683-94.

Fassino S, Piero A, Boggio S, Piccioni R, Carzaro L. Anxiety and depression in infertile couples: a controlled study. Hum Rerpod. 2002;17(11):2986-94.

Chen TH, Chang SP, Tsai CF, Jueng KD. Prevalence depressive and anxiety disorder in an assisted reproductive technique clinic. Hum Reprod. 2004; 19(10):2313-8.

Chachamovich J, Chachamovich E, Fleck HP, Gordova FP, Knauth D, Pessos E. Congruence of quality of life among infertile men and women: findings from a couple-based study. Hum Reprod. 2009;24(9):2151-7.

Jansen RPS. The effect of female age on the likelihood of a life birth from the one in-vitro fertilization treatment. Med J Australia. 2003;178(6): 258-61.

de Mouzon J, Goossens V, Bhattacharya S. Assisted reproductive technology in Europe, 2007: Results generated from European registers by ESHRE. Human Reprod. 2012;27(4):954-66.

Morell C. Women’s experiences with reproductive refusal. Available at: 0959353500010003002. Accessed on 20 April 2021.

Letherby G and Williams C. Non-motherhood: Ambivalent autobiographies. Feminist studies 1999;25(3):719-728

Ragoné H. The elusive embryo: How women and men approach new reproductive technologies. American Anthropol. 2001;103(3):856-7.

Greil A. Infertile bodies. In: infertility around the globe: New thinking on childlessness, gender reproductive technologies. USA: Berkeley University of California Press; 2000.

Goodman SH, Gotlib IH. Risk for psychopathology in the children of depressed mothers: a developmental model of understanding mechanisms of transmission. Psychol . 1999;106(3):458-90.

Phares V, Compas BE. The role of fathers in child and adolescent psychopathology: make room for daddy. Psycho Bull. 1992;111(3):387-412.

Grant MJ, Booth A. A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Inform Lib J. 2009;26(2):91-108.

Thorpe K. A study of the use of the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale with parents group outside the postpartum period. J Reprod Infant Psychol. 1993;11(2):119-25.

Spielberger CD. State-trait Anxiety Invertory: A comprehensive Bibliography. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1989.

Adibin RR. Parenting Stress Index. Professional Manula 3rd e. Odessa, USA: Psychological Assessment Resources; 1990.

Rust J, Bennum I, Crowe M, Golombok S. The GRIMS. A psychometric instrument for the assessment of marital discord. J Fam Therapy. 1990; 12(1):45-57.

Quinton D, Rutter M. Parenting Breakdown: The making and breaking of inter-generational links. Alder shot, UK: Ave-bury Gower Publishing; 1988.

Goodman R. A modified version of the rotter parent questionnaire including extra items on children’s strengths: a research note. J Child Psychol Psychiat. 1994;35(8):1483-94.

Blake L, Casey P, Readings J, Jevda V, Golombok S. “Daddy ran out of tadpoles”: How parents tell their children that they are donor conceived, and what their 7-year olds understand. Human Reprod. 2010;25(10):2527-34.

Human fertilization and embryology authority. Available at: Accessed on 20 April 2021.

Donor conception: ethical aspects of information sharing. Available at: https://www.nuffield conception_developments_June2014.pdf. Accessed on 20 April 2021.

Readings J, Blake L, Casey P, Jadva V, Golombok S. Secrecy, disclosure and everything in between: decisions of parents of children conceive by donor insemination, egg donation and surrogacy. Reprod Biomed. 2011;22(5):485-95.

Culley L, Hudson N, Lohan M. Where are all the men? The marginalization of men in social scientific research on infertility. Reprod Biomed. 2013; 27(3):225-35.

Golombok S, Blake L, Casey P, Roman G and Javda V. Children born through reproductive donation: a longitudinal study of psychological adjustment. J Child Psychol Psychiat. 2013;54(6):653-60.

Golombok S, Murray C, Javda V, Lycett E, MacCallum F, Rust J. Non-genetic and non-gestational parenthood: consequences for parent–child relationships and the psychological well-being of mothers, fathers and children at age 3. Human Reprod. 2006;21(7):1918-24.

Blake L, Javda V, Golombok S. Parent psychological adjustment, donor conception and disclosure: a follow-up over 10 years. Human Reprod. 2014; 29(11):2487-96.






Systematic Reviews