Is it Worth it to Use Donor Sperm?
When you’re considering any elective medical procedure, you need to know the risks, and weigh them against the benefits. The choice of whether or not to have an elective procedure is very personal, and every person will make their choice differently. Here, we’ll discuss the major risks and benefits of using donor sperm to achieve a pregnancy.
While most men would prefer to be genetically related to their children, there are many reasons why this isn’t possible for some men, including genetic diseases, hormonal factors, and exposure to certain chemicals or medications. For these men, the use of donor sperm may allow them to become fathers. The sperm can be used in ART procedures, most commonly intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). For more on what it’s like to have a reproductive procedure using donor sperm, please see Donor Sperm: the Procedure and Recovery.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective procedure with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the provider who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
Any treatment has risks, and it’s important to be aware of them so that you can weigh them against the benefits.
When using donor sperm, there is a risk of passing on any inherited diseases present in the donor’s family. Although donors are thoroughly screened, there’s a chance that unknown problems lurk in the donor’s genome, or that the donor has been exposed to toxins that have damaged his DNA and this damage will later affect the child. Of course, this risk isn’t really limited to the use of donor sperm; when using one’s own sperm, there’s also a chance that unknown genetic diseases or DNA damage will affect the child. However, a man who’s using his own sperm has the advantage of knowing himself and his family thoroughly, while a man using donor sperm is taking a chance on a stranger’s DNA. This risk, while small, may feel significant to some couples.
The risks of a procedure with donor sperm also include all of the usual risks that the procedure would carry if the intended father’s own sperm were being used. To learn more about these risks, please visit Artificial Insemination: Risks and Benefits, as well as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Risks and Benefits.
The benefit of using donor sperm is that it can allow a family to be created that would otherwise not have existed. For those men who, due to genetic diseases or other problems, do not have enough healthy sperm to fertilize eggs and create embryos, the use of donor sperm allows them to have children. The man’s partner may carry the pregnancy herself, or the couple may use a gestational surrogate (if she is unable to carry a pregnancy safely, or if the man is in a homosexual partnership); either way, he becomes a father if the procedure is successful.
Although ART carries many risks, many men believe that almost anything is worth enduring for their children. Most people who have children wouldn’t trade them for anything. Although IUI and IVF may cause discomfort and carry significant risks, and the use of donor sperm carries its own costs, if this procedure allows a man to have a child, these downsides are often quickly forgotten.
The cost for obtaining donor sperm is around $500. The cost varies depending on several factors, including the characteristics of the sperm donation itself, the region and the particular sperm bank. You should check with the provider(s) you’re considering to determine the exact cost. Keep in mind that financing is often available. For more detail, visit our Donor Sperm Cost page.