Should Lesbian Couples Use a Known or Anonymous Sperm Donor?



Trying to conceive is always exciting, but for lesbian couples using a sperm donor with IUI or artificial insemination there are bound to be some dilemmas as well. Which one of you will get pregnant? If you both want to be pregnant, who will go first? What kind of insemination method is right for you? But the biggest and hardest decision of them all is often about the sperm donor.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both known sperm donors and anonymous sperm donors.

Using a Known Sperm Donor

Lesbian couple with their childCouples who would like their child to have the opportunity to get to know their donor, or at least have a picture and his name, might find this option appealing. One great advantage is that you actually get the chance to assess the guy before you ask him, and you know way more about him than his height, hair color, and medical history. If your known donor is a friend, you may well be able to get sperm samples whenever you need them, and for free. Known donors are very compatible with home insemination.

The downside of knowing your child’s sperm donor is that he might want to be more involved in your lives than he cares to admit now. The best approach is clearly to discuss his role in the future (if any!) in advance, and make legally valid agreements if possible. Remember that the donor’s family may also want to be involved if they are aware of his donor status. Some states have grandparent rights, so this is certainly something to take into account.

If you do decide to go the known donor route, the chosen donor should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases before you go ahead and inseminate. No matter how well you know him, this is not the right time to take his word for it. STD’s can be inexpensively tested in most doctors’ offices.

Using an Anonymous Sperm Donor

If you decide to use a sperm bank, you will be able to browse lots of donor profiles before making a decision. Donor sperm is guaranteed to be free of STDs and many sperm donor banks test for genetic diseases as well—two of its greatest advantages. And with an anonymous donor there is no risk of custody battles or donor attempts to see the child in the future.

The flip side is that your child will not be able to find out who her biological father is, even if curiosity gets the better of her. In addition, sperm banks often require the signature of a medical professional before they will ship vials of sperm. That often means you will not be able to carry out at-home insemination and will need to use intrauterine insemination (IUI) at a fertility clinic. This, coupled with the fact that vials of sperm from a sperm bank cost more than a known donor’s sperm, all adds to your cost. And of course, it medicalizes the process of your baby’s conception.

Would you like to read more about how to get pregnant? Olivia’s blog Trying To Conceive is full of information about fertility, pregnancy, and babies, including information for gay and lesbian couples and single mothers by choice.


One Response to Should Lesbian Couples Use a Known or Anonymous Sperm Donor?

  1. Craig Hesser June 5, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Even with a known donor, it is still a biological gamble – there is no way (today, anyway) to know and select all the genes in even your best friend’s DNS. On the other hand, that is what makes the human race the melting pot that it is! Biological diversity!