Sperm Donation is a procedure in which a man donates semen (the fluid containing sperm that is released during ejaculation) to help another person (referred to as the intended parent) conceive a baby.
Roughly 40% of infertility is attributed to male factors, 40% to female factors and the remaining 20% classified as unknown causes or unexplained infertility. Infertility is often associated with feelings of being ashamed or embarrassed, a feeling of being inadequate resulting in low self-esteem. From our early days as kids playing “house”, we all assumed we could have children. To later discover that a person cannot have a biological child invokes a feeling of betrayal for all those years of believing something that was not true. This can leave a person feeling damaged and unworthy of their partner’s commitment. A consultation with a mental health professional may provide specific information that helps the intended parents to more fully understand what is involved in sperm donation, how to deal with the loss and grief over being denied a genetic connection to a child, and how that will affect them and their efforts to have creating their own family. In addition, the mental health professional can guide a couple in helping them improve their communications, understand each other’s feelings, work on their intimacy and their relationship.
There are many reasons why an intended parent(s) would need the assistance of a sperm donor:
- where the intended father experiences male infertility (e.g. azoospermia, oligospermia, poor motility)
- where the intended mother does not have a male partner
- there is a genetic problem which could be inherited from the father
- to provide women in a same-sex relationship the opportunity to become parents
Some of the reasons why men become sperm donors include:
- everyone could use a little extra cash and this is especially true for college and university students, artists, part-time workers, etc.
- some people just want to help other people realize their dream of parenting
- a personal experience with infertility, or having been born via sperm donation themselves, or a family member or friend going through infertility
- some men have no desire to become a parent themselves, but are open to helping others or “leave evidence that they existed” by sharing their biology
- a gay man may understand the struggle other members of the gay community go through and want to contribute to their community
- for some fathers this is a way to help those who cannot parent to have the family they dream of having.
Shame, stigma and grief may contribute to an intended parent(s) deciding to keep the fact that a sperm donor was sought to help them have a family secret and result in not telling their children about their unique beginnings. In addition a parent may feel “left out” as he witnesses the other parent connect with the child. Infertility is not the sole reason for the disconnect that can happen between a child and one parent and such disconnect is equally as evident in biologically related families.
Infertility Portal encourages you to seek a consultation with a mental health professional to discuss conceiving and raising a non-biological child as well as opening the discussion about disclosure to the child. There are no absolute right or wrong decisions. We encourage you to view our Articles & Videos to learn from our professionals from around the world.