Sperm donation is a form of third party reproduction where a man donates semen to help an individual or a couple conceive a baby. The sperm is then either injected into the uterus via a procedure called intrauterine insemination (IUI) or used to fertilize mature eggs as part of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process.

While sperm donation is a treatment option in cases of male factor infertility and an option for female same sex couples and single women, there are still many misconceptions about it. In this article, we’ll debunk some of the common myths so that you can make more empowered decisions on your path to parenthood.

Myth #1 Anyone can be a sperm donor

Sperm donors must meet stringent requirements and undergo multiple medical tests before they can be approved as donors. Only men with the highest quality sperm are accepted as donors, and this includes a great sperm count, good motility (movement) and no shape abnormalities.

Myth #2 There are no age restrictions for sperm donors

Actually, there are limits placed – most sperm banks only accept donors between the ages of 18 and 39, while others cap this at 34. Donors under 21 years of age must undergo a psychological evaluation by a qualified mental health professional before they are given the go ahead to donate.

Myth #3 One donor can end up having a LOT of children

There are guidelines and recommendations to prevent this from happening. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) states that clinics and sperm banks should keep sufficient records on the number of pregnancies a donor is responsible for. While there is no specific number of maximum pregnancies, the ASRM notes that “it has been suggested that in a population of 800,000, limiting a single donor to no more than 25 births would avoid any significant increased risk of inadvertent consanguineous conception”.

Myth #4 Sperm donation is always anonymous

Not necessarily. There are three types of sperm donor arrangements: known, anonymous and semi-open where a limited amount of information is shared between the recipient and the donor. In an anonymous donor arrangement, both parties have no identifying information about each other. While this arrangement is possible in theory, in reality there is no such thing as guaranteed anonymity. As noted by Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Attorney Richard Vaughn, DNA testing for genetic diseases, ancestry tracing websites, and siblings registries make it possible for donor-conceived children to identify the donor.

Myth #5 Sperm donors have parental rights

Provided that the process is done safely and securely, and all the necessary legal contracts are in place, sperm donors do not have parental rights. This means that your sperm donor isn’t responsible for child support, either.

To conclude

Sperm donation can help you build the family you’ve always dreamed of. While it’s not always easy to come to terms with this option, especially if an infertility diagnosis is standing between you and parenthood, know that you are not alone and that there’s plenty of support available!