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Choosing your sperm donor

You’ve decided to expand your family and you just need one thing to make it happen – sperm. As you set about choosing your sperm donor, the good news is that you have options!

Sperm donor options

No matter what route you take, securing your sperm comes with some key considerations. You can opt to purchase it from a sperm bank and you can choose a donor who is known or anonymous. Alternatively, you can work with a known donor outside of a sperm bank, which means finding an actual sperm-producing person that you either know or come to know through the process. 

Sperm banks

Many people opt for a sperm bank to help them get pregnant. There are many options to choose from, and all of them ship sperm frozen in tanks with liquid nitrogen so you don’t have to choose a bank that is located near you. 

Cost is a factor for many when it comes to purchasing sperm from a sperm bank. One vial of sperm can cost between $900 and $1,000 and you generally use one vial per cycle. Some people might try twice in one month, but if you are under direction of a medical doctor or fertility clinic, they will generally recommend one try per month and they will monitor you to ensure you’re inseminating at the single most optimal time based on your follicle development and hormone levels.

The benefit of choosing to go with a sperm bank is that the legality is clearer. The donor retains no legal rights to his genetic material and so you don’t need to take any additional steps or worry that a non-biological parent might have their rights threatened by the donor who, in some cases, could have more legal rights than the intended parent. 

Selection process

You have a lot of options when selecting sperm, including the ability to review the donor’s medical history and family medical history, background and attributes, images from childhood and adulthood, and sometimes even audio or written accounts that give you a sense of the person’s personality. Most sperm bank sites are a bit of a hybrid between a social media site and shopping site, where you can search by certain criteria and bring up profiles that match.

You can opt to purchase sperm from an anonymous donor or a disclosure-ID donor, which generally means that when your child reaches the age of 18, the donor has agreed to make their identity known. Both of these are sensitive decisions that come with a host of questions and considerations which are sometimes difficult to ascertain at the time of sperm selection, but may come into sharper focus as your child gets older. There is a growing faction of donor-conceived children who believe they should be able to know who the donor is, their genetic parent, from birth. 

Known donors

Some people choose not to pursue the sperm bank route at all, and instead select a known donor, like a friend or family member who has agreed to donate sperm. There are also some sites that offer intended parents the opportunity to connect with donors willing to give their sperm away. 

This can be the most cost-effective option, as sperm with a known donor can cost as little as nothing. This route, though, does add more complexities to the legal and logistical aspects of beginning your parenting journey. You will need to have the donor sign legal documents relinquishing their rights to the child. Of course, there’s always the possibility or concern that someone who remains in your life may change their mind about how involved they’d like to be and that may differ from what you originally agreed upon. And, many have created rich, interwoven extended families where the donor plays a role in the child’s life. 

There are lots of family-building options to consider. Whatever you decide, be sure to research your options, plan accordingly, and know that no matter how challenging the journey, know that it’s all worth it in the end.

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