What is a Sperm Donor?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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A sperm donor is a man who donates his semen, containing viable sperm, for the purpose of allowing a woman to conceive a child without having sexual intercourse. Sperm donors can choose to be anonymous or allow their identities to be revealed to women who become pregnant from their donations. Most sperm donations occur through sperm banks, but some donations make take place through special arrangements made by a private donor and a recipient. Sperm donation is commonly used to help couples who cannot achieve pregnancy because of the male partner's infertility. However, it is also frequently employed to help single females and lesbian partners conceive.

Laws vary concerning sperm donation, depending on where the sperm bank is located or where the donation will take place. In some places, a sperm donor's identity must be kept private. Sometimes, both the sperm donor and the recipient have a choice in whether or not the donation will be anonymous. No matter how the donor's identity is handled, he is the biological father of any children his donations produce. Often, multiple half-siblings are born from one man's multiple donations.


To become a sperm donor, most banks require a male to be at least 18 years old but not older than 44. The male must be in good health and have no family history of conditions that can be inherited. Adopted males may not be accepted as sperm donors, as their family histories will be in question. A prospective donor must be willing to make a 6-month commitment and submit one semen donation to the bank at least four times (and sometimes more) per month. Donors must also be wiling to submit to physical exams and initial specimen testing before they are accepted.

Sperm donors often receive payment for their donations from the clinics or sperm banks to which they donate their sperm. Typical sperm donor compensation ranges from $35 US Dollars (USD) to $50 USD per donation. However, there can be wide variation in payment amounts, depending on the sperm bank's budget and what sperm donors in the area are willing to accept. In many cases, a sperm donor will not receive complete payment for 6 months. During that time, the donor must submit to a series of blood tests to ensure that he is free of communicable diseases.

The 6-month wait for payment corresponds to the quarantining of the sperm donor's semen specimen. The bank's laboratory holds the sperm for this long because there are some diseases and viruses, such as HIV, that may be present in the donor's body yet not show up in a blood test until about 6 months later. By keeping full payment back during the quarantine period, the bank ensures that the donor will show up for repeat testing.


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