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Five Things You Should Know After IVF Using a Sperm Bank or Egg Donor

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a journey filled with hope, anticipation, and crucial decisions, especially when using a sperm bank or egg donor. While the focus often remains on the procedure and the joyous outcome of having a child, it's equally important to understand what comes after IVF. Here are five critical aspects to consider:

1. Your Child May Have Many Siblings Worldwide

One of the lesser-known realities of using a sperm donor or egg donor is the potential for your child to have numerous siblings across the globe. In the United States and Canada there are no legal limits on the number of families that can select the same donor, and major cryobanks distribute their donors' gametes internationally, so even those in countries with legal limits may not actually remain within those legal limits globally. This can result in your child having many half-siblings, a phenomenon that can have both positive and challenging implications.


2. Limited Access to Updated Medical History

When you choose a sperm donor or egg donor, you typically receive a medical history that pertains to the donor and their immediate family at the time of donation. Unfortunately, this information can be outdated, incomplete, or inaccurate. The absence of updated medical histories can compromise the health of your child, making it difficult for doctors to diagnose or anticipate medical conditions.


3. Navigating the Conversation About Conception

A pivotal moment for parents of donor-conceived children is explaining how they were conceived. Children naturally have questions about their origins, and how you handle these questions can significantly impact their sense of identity and well-being. Using an anonymous donor or even an Open ID donor can complicate these conversations, leaving children with unanswered questions and more.


4. Connecting with Other Families

Deciding whether to connect with other families who used the same donor is another important consideration. These connections can be beneficial for your child, providing them with a broader sense of family and support network. There are various platforms available, such as DCPData, the Donor Sibling Registry, and Facebook groups, which facilitate these connections.


  • How to Facilitate the Connections: Connecting with other families can provide shared experiences and mutual support. Which online platform allows for the most secure and robust connections? How might you broach the topic of connection with the other families?
  • Structure of the Connections: Will the relationships take the form of online interaction, in-person interaction, or a hybrid of the two? The earlier the introductions the better, but be sure to manage your children's expectations and budget for travel if you choose to have in-person relationships between the children, which adult donor-conceived people have unequivocally said is important to them.

5. Managing Extra Embryos or Gametes

Post-IVF, you may have leftover embryos or gametes. Deciding what to do with these can be emotionally taxing. Options include donating to other families, participating in a cryobank's buyback program, or destroying them. Each option comes with its own set of emotional and ethical considerations.


  • Donation or Buyback: Increases the number of donor siblings, which may have implications for your child.
  • Destroying Extra Embryos: Even for the most pro-choice parents, deciding to destroy unused embryos or gametes can be difficult.
  • Storage Costs: Long-term storage of genetic material can be expensive.

Conclusion: Preventing and Mitigating Issues

While the post-IVF journey with a sperm bank or egg donor comes with unique challenges, there are steps you can take to prevent or mitigate these issues.

Key Preventative Measures:

  1. Ask the Right Questions:
    • Family Limits: Inquire about how the sperm bank or egg bank ensures adherence to advertised family limits. Even if they have limits that they or an outside entity enforce, consider how the current lack of an international regulatory body means the true limit is the combined limits of each country that imported the donor's genetic material - ten in the UK plus ten in Australia plus an unlimited number in the US, and on and on.
    • Medical Histories: Understand how they verify and update donors' medical histories over time if they are not legally required to do so.
  2. Leverage Resources:
    • USDCC, DC UK, and DC Aotearoa: These organizations offer resources and support for donor-conceived families.
    • DCPData: Join our platform to access up-to-date medical histories from participating donors and donor-conceived families, and connect with other families who used the same donor.
  3. Educate and Prepare:

By taking proactive steps and utilizing available resources, you can navigate the complexities of IVF using a sperm bank or egg donor with confidence and ensure the best possible outcomes for your family. Remember, while the journey may be complex, it is also filled with opportunities for growth, connection, and profound love.

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