Donor sperm: Whether to use known donor or anonymous donor sperm


So you’ve decided to use artificial insemination to get pregnant. The next decision is whether or not to use sperm from someone you know or from someone you don’t know. In this post, Pink Families shares some of the thoughts that other women have had when thinking about both approaches.

Known donor sperm

Reasons for known donor sperm

Research has shown that lesbians may use known donor sperm for a number of reasons. Here are four of these reasons:

  • The child has the right to form a relationship with the donor. Knowing the donor will help them in some way.
  • The child has the right to know their genetic origins. It is more helpful for the donor to share this information with the child.
  • Sharing the identity of the donor with the child may help avoid any psychological and identity problems later in life.
  • Using donor sperm provides a way of including someone in the child’s life that may have a good influence on them.

Who to choose

Choosing the right donor is an important part of deciding whether or not to use known donor sperm.

When making this decision, think about what feels right now and also what might feel right in the future.

Approaching a biologically related relative of your partner might be the right option. Approaching the partner of a gay relative may suit. A trusted heterosexual single, gay, bisexual or trans friend might make the best donor for you.

The options are endless. The key is to work out what will work for you and your partner (if you have one), the child, and what might work best for the person you approach.

If you choose to use known donor sperm it is advisable to establish a contract between you, your partner (if you have one) and the known donor.

Anonymous donor sperm

The reasons for choosing to use anonymous donor sperm vary from individual to individual, and couple to couple. Research has identified a number of reasons why lesbians sometimes choose to use anonymous donor sperm. Four of these reasons are as follows:

  • The child may not benefit from being raised by the donor. They don’t need to know the donor and they won’t benefit from their involvement.
  • The integrity of the family unit is important. Including the donor in the child’s life may compromise or challenge the family unit in some way. This would not be helpful to the child.
  • Complications can be avoided by not including the donor. This includes potential legal complications. Avoiding these complications will be helpful to the child and the family.
  • Involving the donor may compromise the role of the non-biological mother. This is not in the best interests of the family or the child.

What to do next?

There is no right or wrong. What’s most important is that you work out what feels right for you. Considering four steps might also help.

First, it’s vital that you know your rights before you start to use donor sperm. This will help ensure that your rights and the rights of your child are protected. This also includes considering the parental rights that the non-biological mother will have – this depends on the laws within the country or state that you reside within and can vary greatly from country to country.

Second, if you choose to use known donor sperm in your own home then you should talk to your family physician (GP) first.

They will help you make sure whether it is safe to use the donor’s sperm and understand the risks involved. They will probably recommend that you and your donor be tested for a number of sexually transmitted diseases and genetic disorders before you begin on this journey. This is a standard recommendation. The donor’s sperm will also be analyzed.

Some doctors may not feel able to recommend any course of action to you for home insemination as it may not be legally permissible for them to advise you. If you choose to use donor sperm through a clinic then the fertility service will usually help you with all of the required tests.

Third, if you choose to use known donor sperm then set up a contract before inseminating.

Fourth, make sure that everyone understands and agrees on the plan ahead.

If you use donor sperm through a clinic, you will need to attend implications counseling to make sure you and your partner (if you have one) understand all that is involved.

If you use known donor sperm without the help of a clinic, it is important that you invest the time and energy into discussing what lies ahead. This will be time well invested for your family.


Murray C, Golombok S. Going it Alone: Solo Mothers and their Infants Conceived by Donor Insemination. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2005 Apr;75(2):242-53.

Readings J, Blake L, Casey P, Jadva V, Golombok S. Secrecy, Disclosure and Everything In-between: Decisions of Parents of Children Conceived by Donor Insemination, Egg Donation and Surrogacy. Reproductive Biomedicine Online 2011;22:485–495.

Stonewall. Pregnant Pause: A Guide for Lesbians on how to get Pregnant. London, UK: Stonewall.

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