Solo mother by donor – the plan B of motherhood. A perspective on person-centered reproductive medicine

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Marie Engholm Frederiksen
Ulla Christensen
Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen
Lone Schmidt


Assisted reproductive technology has been developed to treat couples with reproductive diseases. Recently, however, there has been an increase in single, fertile women who want a child by donor insemination (DI). In Denmark, it has been legal since 2007 for medical doctors to offer assisted reproduction to single women. To explore the reason why single women decide to use DI for becoming a mother we conducted in-depth interviews with six single, heterosexual women receiving DI treatment at a public fertility clinic.  Data were analysed by a hermeneutic approach. We identified three main themes; 1) Images of children and family, 2) Taking action and 3) Absent fathers. Despite their decision to use DI, the women would have preferred to have a child in a relationship with a man. However, motherhood was of such importance that the women chose to use a donor because they feared they would otherwise become too old to have children. The women were aware that the absence of a father may have consequences for them and their child and they still hoped that their future family would include a man. The empirical findings are discussed in the context of the sociologist Gidden’s notions about choice in modern society. Staff at fertility clinics need to expand their knowledge of single motherhood in order to develop person-centered reproductive medicine approaches for this new group of patients who differ in their needs from couples seeking fertility treatment due to having a reproductive condition such as infertility.

Article Details

Person-centered care: general aspects
Author Biography

Lone Schmidt, Department of Public Health University if Copenhagen

Department of Public Health,University of CopenhagenAssociate Professor, MD, DMSci, PhD


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