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Known vs. Anonymous Sperm Donation: Which Is Best for Me

Posted on January 1, 2022

Whether you are intending to conceive on your own, with a partner who has ovaries, or a partner whose sperm you can’t use due to health or genetic reasons, family planning contains many components. The decision to use third-party reproduction is a big step in your fertility journey, but another question remains--should you conceive with a known or anonymous sperm donor?

Known Sperm Donors

A known donor is just that--a person you know that commits to helping you conceive. This can be a friend, coworker, or family member of your partner. This can be a wonderful decision for those who would like their family to maintain a relationship with their donor, or those who would prefer not to find a donor through a sperm bank or agency.


The cost of a known sperm donor is significantly less than if you were to work with an agency to find a donor. This is because known donors aren’t usually paid for their donations. The medical costs for the procedure are covered, but no additional compensation for their sperm donation is necessary or provided. This could save you thousands of dollars.

More Information

Because you are acquainted with your donor, when your child wonders about his personal history, that information is more readily available for them.

Throughout the process, it may feel uncomfortable asking the more awkward and in-depth questions to your donor, which may become challenging. In order to ensure the viability of the sperm, questions about personal health and family history need to be addressed; many times this can bring the donor and intended parents closer together, but other times push them apart.


If it is important to you that your baby is genetically linked to you, working with a known donor may be your best bet. For example, a brother or cousin can donate their sperm to their family member’s partner, so that a familial connection can be maintained. This often makes intended parents feel an even stronger connection to their child.

This also may cause tension or disagreement as the baby gets older--although the donor is not their parent, they may feel a strong connection to their biological child. This could make them want a say in how the child is raised or increase their contact. It is totally up to you how much contact your known donor has with your child and family, and healthy boundaries are important in order to prevent relationships from becoming strained.

Anonymous Sperm Donors

Through anonymous sperm donation, there are no personal details about the donor that are revealed. Neither parents nor the child conceived via the donated sperm will have contact with the donor. In the early days of third-party reproduction, this was by far the most popular approach.

Anonymous sperm donors are vetted through a rigorous screening process, assuring only the best candidates are available for intended parents. The screening process includes a medical exam, as well as a background check, personality test, infectious disease testing, and fertility health test to ensure you are selecting among the highest quality candidates.

Comprehensive Testing

Genetic tests cover everything from overall sperm health to genetic conditions the donor may carry, and anonymous donation does thorough genetic testing. Although the law dictates extensive medical and genetic tests are done on all donors, many sperm banks provide additional testing in order to ensure a thoroughly screened collection of samples.

With doctor’s appointments, tests, and other expenses, the cost of anonymous sperm donation can add up. When thinking about the needs of your family and your budget, the peace of mind offered by donor agencies and sperm banks may be worth the considerable cost.

As your future child grows up, they could grow curious about their genetic history and want to learn more about the person who helped them come into the world. This is a very natural impulse, but an anonymous donation can complicate access to this information. It can be impossible to contact the donor, which can be disheartening. Similarly, the donor may change their mind and want to contact their biological child and would not be able to do so.

When in Doubt, Talk It Out

If you are unsure where to start your search, it could help to talk to others who have used a sperm donor to better understand the process. Discuss your needs with your doctor, and you may be able to work together to find a secure and healthy way to start planning the family of your dreams. When you are ready to start your fertility journey, or if you have questions, contact our team of experts today.

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