Single women and lesbian couples may choose to build their families by selecting donor sperm and becoming pregnant either via artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sperm donation by definition is the donation of sperm by a man with the intention of impregnating a woman who is not his sexual partner.
While the sperm donor is the biological father, if the appropriate steps have been taken such as donating through a clinical program or sperm bank, then the donor is not legally responsible for the child or children produced by his sperm. If the sperm is donated at a sperm bank or at a clinical facility, the donor also undergoes an extensive screening process.
The screening process includes questionnaires, blood screening, specimen screening, genetic analysis and a physical evaluation. Men seeking to donate sperm are automatically disqualified if there is a family history of genetic diseases; if he is a homosexual; is adopted; or is an intravenous drug user. Sperm banks are typically very selective about whom they allow to donate, and the screening process can take from eight weeks to six months.
If the donor is approved by the sperm bank, he will receive a monetary payment for each semen sample donated. The amount is dependent upon the sperm bank.
From the donor perspective, the actual sperm donation process itself is simple. To obtain the semen sample, the donor privately ejaculates into a sterile container. The semen sample is then frozen with cryopreservatives and liquid nitrogen. When the sperm is needed, it will be thawed and used to impregnate a woman via artificial insemination.
There are two types of sperm donors: anonymous (less complicated because the sperm bank has already dealt with medical and legal issues) and known (the sperm donor is a family member or friend known to the couple). If the sperm donor is known, the parties involved should undergo counseling together and clarify how involved the sperm donor will be in the child’s life. In addition, a legal contract should be drawn up. Known donors should also be screened according to American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines just like an anonymous donor would be.
There are approximately 150 sperm banks in the United States, and because frozen sperm can be shipped, you are not limited to one within your immediate area. Once you have chosen a sperm bank, you will research the donors with physical characteristics, ethnic background, education levels and other traits in mind. Once you have selected a donor, you pay the sperm banks, and the donor sperm is shipped directly to your fertility doctor.