By Andrea Rodrigo BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 12/24/2015

Given that choosing by yourself a sperm donor in the United States is possible, three ways of proceeding when using donor sperm in our fertility treatment are available:

  • Anonymous donation: Intended parents do not get to know the person who is about to donate his sperm for their fertility treatment, although they are allowed to inform the sperm bank or fertility clinic about their preferences.
  • Semi-known donation: Even though some people see it as another anonymous process because of the fact that intended parents do not have access to their donor identity, the truth is they can actually select him according to more or less detailed information. Eye color, hair color, height, tone of voice, childhood pictures, medical history, academic records, etc. are just some traits that sperm donor agencies make accessible to intended parents.
  • Known donation: In this case, it will be the intended parents who will deliver the donor. It can be a friend, a relative, or an acquaintance.

Considering which type of sperm donation we want to choose is not easy and even some people need to seek psychological counseling to make up their minds. While some couples have a preference for anonymous sperm donation, others are incapable of undergoing this fertility treatment if they cannot meet the person who is about to deliver half the genetic material of their child.

Donor’s identity

Some agencies or sperm banks offer a service called “open-donor program”, in which case the donor-conceived child can have access to his/her donor’s identity when he/she turns 18 years old.

This additional service could be useful in cases of anonymous and semi-known sperm donation, since it is in these cases when access to identifiable information about the donor—such as recent photographs, address, phone number, or e-mail address—is not allowed even though it is possible to find out certain traits about him.

In this sense, one can find the following situations:

  • The donor accepts to get involved in the open-donor program from the very moment when he is accepted as a donor and included within the egg donor database provided by the sperm bank or fertility clinic.
  • The donor wishes to remain anonymous from the beginning, but he agrees to reveal personal information about himself once the donor-conceived child is born, which would mean they have the chance to build a close relationship from that moment on.

Be it as it may, the child will be the only one person allowed to request such information, which will solely be revealed to him/her. Furthermore, donors must give their consent to this end, taking into account that everything will be organized by the agency or sperm bank, who will act as intermediaries towards making the dream of all parties involved come true.

Requirements for donors

Regardless of whether the donor is chosen by the intended parents or selected from a list of candidates provided by the sperm bank or fertility clinic, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has established the following basic criteria for qualifying as a sperm donor:

  • Age between 21 and 40
  • Passing psychological screening tests
  • Overall good health
  • Absence of infectious and genetic diseases likely to be inherited by offspring

Likewise, for prospective sperm donors to be accepted as so, sperm parameters shown in the semen sample must show higher levels than those considered as reference values, therefore proving the donor has indeed excellent-quality sperm.

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Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information
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One comment

    1. Julianna

      Hello, please help me. I choose the open-donor program 17 years ago, and now my son is about to turn 18 and I know the moment is here, but I regret having chosen that program, can I revoke it? Please, I know if he knows he is a donor-conceived child will be bullied or something. Please, help us.