Types of Sperm Donors

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Types of Sperm Donors

What are the options?  Here is some basic information to get you started.

There are a few ways to find a sperm donor. You can either buy sperm from a sperm bank , or get sperm from a man in person, either from someone you know or someone who donates sperm for free. This is called a "known donor." There are legal and personal implications that you need to think about to decide which option is best for you.

 Buying from a sperm bank

Getting sperm from a sperm bank is by far the safest method both for legal and health reasons. Sperm banks carefully screen their donors backgrounds and medical history, and most run basic genetic tests. All donor sperm is tested for HIV and other STDs and held for six months prior to being released to recipients. If you are going to have your doctor perform the insemination, they will most likely require that you purchase sperm from a licensed sperm bank. 

Different kinds of sperm bank donors

Most donated sperm is anonymous, meaning you will never know who he is and he will never know who you are. Many sperm banks now offer a variety of more open donors, men who are willing to release their identity when the child is 18, and a very few even before that. The cost of open donor sperm is often much higher.

Different kinds of sperm

Sperm banks offer sperm specifically prepared for the three different methods of artificial insemination, IUI, ICI and IVF. The least expensive kind is unwashed sperm prepared for ICI. Unwashed sperm for IVF is slightly more, and washed sperm for IUI is the most expensive.

Intracervical Insemination (ICI) - this method uses unwashed sperm. ICI is the easiest way to inseminate and involves depositing sperm high into the cervix with a needless syringe. This method mimics how sperm is introduced to the cervix during vaginal intercourse.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) - this method requires washed sperm (sperm removed from the seminal fluid). IUI is performed by a doctor and the washed sperm is injected directly into the uterus.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - this method uses unwashed sperm. IVF is performed by a doctor outside of the recipient's body. Her eggs are harvested (or donor eggs are used), and sperm is introduced in the lab until fertilization occurs and then placed into the recipient's uterus. This is usually the last resort when other methods of assisted reproduction have failed.


 Working with a Known Donor

A known donor is a man with whom you have an agreement to donate his sperm to you for the purpose of conceiving a child. Many women use someone they know, such as a family member of their partner or a friend. There are also many men all over the world who donate their sperm to women for free. 

Known Donor Legal Considerations

The biggest difference between using a known donor and a sperm bank is the level of legal protections for both the donor and the recipient, and the amount of effort it requires to secure it. Here are some things to consider when deciding if this is an option for you:

check If you don't want the donor to have parental rights (recommended), you will need a carefully worded and thorough contract. We have some contract examples here, but it is best to consult a family law attorney. 

check Research the family and parental rights laws in your state to see what rights a biological parent has regardless of contracts. Here are a few links we have gathered.

check If you are planning on using a friend or family member and want them to have a relationship or co-parenting role with the child, consider writing a contract that stipulates the nature of the relationship. This will help make sure all parties are on the same page and may avoid conflicts in the future.

check If you are planning on finding a donor through a free sperm donor site, you will need to carefully screen potential donors to make sure you find someone who is healthy, safe and meets your contractual requirements. Be prepared to pay for STD and health screening if the donor does not already have them. Read our article here on How To Screen Donors.


 Comparison between sperm banks and known donors


   Sperm Bank  Known Donor
Cost stock-index-down-icon_small $500-$2000 per cycle + physicians fees stock-index-up-icon_small Free (+ cost of any health screening or STD testing for the donor)
Legal Protection stock-index-up-icon_small Offers complete protection to both donor and recipient with no additional contracts. Sperm bank contracts are binding and cover required state laws. stock-index-down-icon_small Requires the use of a contract between parties to attain legal protection. This protection is only as good as the contract used, and is not as solid as when using a sperm bank.
Access to donor information stock-index-down-icon_small Limited access to donor information, depending on the sperm bank. General health and background information is given, but rarely any specific details. More access usually costs more. stock-index-up-icon_small This will vary based on the individual agreement, but usually there is a high degree of information about the donor, especially if he is a friend or family member. 
Future Contact stock-index-up-icon_smallstock-index-down-icon_small Most sperm banks do not allow future contact with the donor. Some have information release when the child reaches 18. This may be positive or negative for you , depending on what your wishes are for your future children's ability to contact their biological parent. stock-index-up-icon_smallstock-index-down-icon_small This will rely entirely on the agreement between the donor and recipient and the nature of their relationship. Many men who donate their sperm for free are open to limited contact from the parents.

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