This article provides an overview of using sperm donors: who they are, the cost, how the donor selection process works, and other important information to be aware of when opting to do this.
Who uses sperm donation?
Several types of people may need to use a sperm donor to get pregnant:
- Heterosexual couples in which the male partner has a sperm abnormality (such as a low sperm count)
- Heterosexual couples in which the male partner has a genetic abnormality that he doesn’t want to pass on to his children
- Heterosexual couples in which the male partner has undergone a vasectomy or treatment for prostate cancer
- Lesbian couples
- Single women who want to experience parenthood and don’t have a partner
How to choose a sperm donor?
When looking for a sperm donor, it’s possible to choose between a donor you know (such as a family member or a friend) or a donor from a sperm bank. If you’re doing it through a sperm bank, the amount of information you’ll get about the donor and their medical history depends on the bank and the donor.
- Some donors want to remain anonymous while others are willing to be identified if a future child wants to make contact with them when the child enters adolescence.
- Some banks offer extensive ways to search their donor database (like filtering for parameters such as height, hair color, and body weight, or even personality attributes), while others have more limited search functions.
- Some banks allow filtering according to genetic conditions and mental problems, but some banks only do minimum screening for health (usually just a handful of venereal diseases).
In the end, it’s advisable to filter the donors but, at the same time, it’s also better not to analyze or think about it too much. A donor has to be chosen anyway eventually.
Taking a sperm donation from someone you know.
Some women prefer to choose a man that they know so there will be no guessing who the sperm donor is.
But, in reality, this is the least common way to choose a sperm donor, mainly because of all the legal complications involved in using a sperm donor you know.
Besides the analysis of their sperm and the fertility of a sperm donor you know, an entirely different dimension of consent is required when using a donor you know. Mental health counseling is required in order to make sure everyone agrees with what is best for the child, and a legal agreement must be drawn up to protect everyone’s rights.
What rights are we talking about?
- The rights of the woman who needs the sperm donation so that she can keep custody of her child as a single parent or as a single co-parent (with her partner), without worrying that the sperm donor will claim custody or parental rights later on.
- The rights of the sperm donor so that they will not have to pay alimony in the future.
- The rights of the child, the product of the process, so they will never have to be dragged into court for a painful custody battle between the parents who raised them and their sperm donor.
However, using a sperm bank means that you don’t have to do all the hard work yourself.
If you use a sperm bank, do your research.
Unfortunately, when choosing to use a donor from a sperm bank, it’s essential to run checks and do research on the bank. Some banks are more reliable than others and there is not a lot of regulation in this area, which sometimes leads to insufficient screening of donors and less ethical business practices.
Basically, it’s necessary to know how the bank you are considering using operates: review all their legal policies and consent forms, ask about their record-keeping methods and their methods for tracking siblings, research what kind of medical history they collect and what medical conditions they check, and ask around on Facebook groups that discuss fertility in your area, check online consumer reviews of the bank, etc.
The process is relatively inexpensive.
Compared to other fertility treatments, the cost of using a sperm donor is relatively reasonable. The cost can range from $ 500 to $ 2,000, depending on whether you are using an anonymous donor or a donor you know. Don’t forget that if your donor is a friend or family member, you’ll also be responsible for paying their mental health fees and expenses.
Pregnancy doesn’t happen automatically. Even when using a sperm donor, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get pregnant immediately, and it could take longer than expected.
Maybe this is not how you imagined and wanted it to happen but the end result is worth it.
Most likely, it wasn’t your original plan to use a sperm donor and the necessity to adjust your expectations can be disappointing and frustrating. These feelings are completely natural and it’s legitimate to seek psychological help if you are struggling internally with the idea of using a sperm donor. Professionals can also help you with the emotional aspects of the process.
If you think you’re ready to embark on your journey to fertility in which using a sperm donor may be your best bet, then go for it – but proceed with caution and make sure that you do all the essential checks.