Types of Sperm Donors used for Lesbian Family-Building
Lesbian couples seeking to start or add to their families have many choices to make along the way to parenthood. As longtime advocates and supporters of lesbian parents, New York Fertility Services knows there are many paths to conception, and our fertility specialists are here to assist with all aspects of the process, including educating our patients about the type of sperm donor to select.
Making the decision about which type of sperm donor to use is very personal, and every couple should carefully consider their individual needs and expectations. We highly recommend speaking to other lesbian couples about their donor choice to hear about different experiences.
Using a Known Sperm Donor
Some lesbian couples decide that they would like to have someone they know, such as a friend or relative, contribute sperm to create the pregnancy. This is called using a “known sperm donor.”
Couples (or individuals) who choose known donors are reassured by having more information about the donor’s background and personality than they might if they chose sperm from a sperm bank. They also might hope that the child could have the option of having contact with their biological father in the future.
In some cases, lesbian couples will choose known donors with the expectation that the donor will act as a male role model and have an ongoing, albeit limited, role in the child’s life.
Since this option isn’t for everyone, it’s important to consider many factors while deciding on a type of sperm donor. A few of the issues to consider include:
- Donor availability and role: Is there a male in your life that you would like as the father of your child? Is this person likely to be receptive to the idea? How would the relationships among you, the donor and child develop once the baby arrives?
- Legal rights and responsibilities: Laws determining the rights and obligations of known sperm donors are complex and vary significantly by region. This means that it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney who can advise you about legal implications for mother, partner, child and father.
Enlisting a Sperm Bank
Some lesbian couples feel more comfortable choosing a donor from a sperm bank, rather than someone they know. Some of the advantages they cite include:
- Extensive sperm sample screening: Donors’ samples are screened, frozen and quarantined for six months before being re-screened and tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
- Medical history and exam: Sperm banks perform physical exams on each donor, testing each individual for genetic diseases.
- Donor selection: You can select from a wide range of donors based on health history, desired physical characteristics, race and ethnicity, and education/professional experience.
For lesbian couples that decide to use a sperm bank rather than a known donor, there is still an important choice to make regarding the type of sperm donor. There are two choices at most sperm banks.
- Anonymous sperm donor: Anonymous donors are unwilling to be known by any of their offspring that result from their donation to the sperm bank, including when the child becomes an adult.
- Open-identity sperm donor: Open-ID donors agree tobe available for contact once the child turns 18. The idea of giving their children this option is important to some parents.
At New York Fertility Services, we’re here to offer our lesbian patients all of the support and information they need to make the best family-building plan. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist to start your journey with an understanding healthcare partner.