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Houston Fertility Journal

    How to Choose Between an Anonymous vs Open Sperm Donor

    September 22, 2016 / by Center of Reproductive Medicine   

    Center of Reproductive Medicine


    Once you’ve made the decision to pursue artificial insemination as your means of achieving pregnancy, and a partner’s sperm is not an option, you will have to decide between an anonymous vs open sperm donor. An open donor is any situation in which the identity of the donor is known and an anonymous donor is of course a situation in which the identity is unknown.

    It’s important to completely understand the differences to determine the best option for your family. If you used an open sperm donor, once the child turns 18 they may learn who the donor was. However, an anonymous sperm donor will forever remain anonymous. There is a third option of using a donation from a friend, family member, or known donor in which case you will have to decide the level of involvement that person has in your child’s life. While the choice is ultimately a personal one that can only be decided by you, below are some factors to consider that may help you in making your decision between anonymous vs open sperm donor.

    Open Sperm Donors

    • An open sperm donor understands that at the age of 18 the child has the right to learn who their donor was.
    • Depending on the sperm bank that the donation was made through, some open donors are committed to at least one contact with the offspring once that offspring turns 18. However, not all sperm banks require they contact the offspring at all. And, after that first contact the donor is typically not required to communicate further if they choose not to.
    • In the event the donor has contributed to additional pregnancies, the offspring may also be able to meet potential half siblings. This varies based on the sperm bank used, and is dependent on whether or not the sperm bank used has a sibling registry.

    Anonymous Sperm Donors

    • While their identity is not disclosed, an anonymous donor's traits such as race, religion, complexion, education, and family medical history are often available through a sperm bank’s database.
    • Even after the child turns 18, regardless of whether they hope to learn more about their biological father, the records of the donor will be sealed.
    • The possibility of the child learning about any potential siblings will also be highly unlikely.
    • Because the sperm donor will never be revealed, the parents of the child conceived can choose whether or not to tell the child how they were conceived. Then again, the pros and cons for revealing how the child was conceived are an entirely different matter. Nonetheless, this factor could assist in your decision of whether to choose an anonymous or open donor.

    Additional Factors to Consider

    • Both anonymous and open donors are under no financial or legal obligation to support any children conceived using their sperm.
    • Screenings for both types of donors are typically quite stringent, and donors with HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, past drug use, etc. are excluded. In fact, less than 1% of donor applicants will make it through the selection process of the majority of reputable sperm banks.
    • Both anonymous and open donors will undergo an extensive psychological, genetic, and medical screening. They will also be subjected to an exhaustive background check and family medical history examination.
    • As we have stated on our Donor Sperm information page, based on our experience and high standards, we recommended that our patients consider purchasing donor sperm from either California Cryobank or Fairfax Cryobank.

    Hopefully, this has given you some insight about the factors you need to consider in weighing your decision of using anonymous vs open sperm donors. The bottom line is, however, that if you ever want your child to have a chance to know who their biological father is, it is best to choose an open donor. On the other hand, if you never want them to know the donor's identity, opt for an anonymous one. To discuss your options further, click here to learn about our consultations and what happens at your first visit.

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    Topics: Male Fertility Testing, Reproductive Specialist, Sperm Donor

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