One common form of third party reproduction is the use of a sperm donor to conceive a child. In this scenario, an individual or couple who needs viable male sperm chooses to seek a male donor. This is a common choice for single women, couples with male partners who have some level of infertility, and lesbian couples, among other scenarios. A sperm donor may donate his sperm either to a sperm bank or fertility clinic for anyone to use at the clinic’s discretion, or privately to an individual or couple to whom he wishes to donate directly.


Artificial insemination is most commonly used to introduce the donated sperm to the woman who will carry the child to term, either as the intended mother or surrogate for the intended parents. There are three types of artificial insemination that might be used: intracervical insemination, intrauterine insemination, or intravaginal insemination. The first two of these techniques are performed at a clinic or sperm bank, while the third may be performed at home. In more rare cases, the insemination of the egg using donor sperm occurs through in vitro fertilization.



Many individuals or couples choose to take advantage of a sperm bank when choosing a donor. In this case, the recipient(s) are able to select the donor sperm based on a variety of details provided by the institution about each donor, including their health and medical history, personality, physical appearance, education, and race. Sperm banks vary as to the amount of information about a donor that they are willing to share with the recipients which may cause people to seek out private sperm donors. The intended parents may use the donated sperm themselves through artificial insemination of the mother or create an embryo with a donated egg for a surrogate or the intended mother to carry. In most cases, men who donate to sperm banks give up any legal rights to children that may result from the use of the donated sperm.


Sometimes an individual or couple will find a sperm donor on their own or know someone such as a friend or family member who is willing to donate sperm to them so that they can have a child. Alternatively, intended parents may find a donor through a “broker,” who works to link up recipients with potential donors. These non-anonymous donors are also called “known donors,” “open donors,” or “identity disclosure donors.” Many intended parents will use a sperm bank or fertility clinic to help them with artificial insemination using their chosen donor’s sperm.


Either directed sperm donation or a sperm bank may be used in a surrogacy pregnancy. If the surrogate’s eggs will be used (traditional surrogacy), the surrogate will most likely be artificially inseminated. If an egg donor is used in addition to the sperm donor, the egg will be fertilized in vitro and implanted into the surrogate’s uterus (gestational surrogacy).


There are many legal matters to consider in the event of sperm donation, depending on the recipient(s) and the donor’s situations. Some recipients wish to maintain a relationship with their donor, especially if it is a direct donation. In this case, the donor may participate in some degree of co-parenting, which should be specified and legally enforced before the pregnancy is initiated. In other less rare cases, the recipient(s) may choose to maintain contact with the donor but set up boundaries to their post-donation relationship and maintain complete parenting control. In that case, the recipient(s) will want their contract to reflect that the donor agrees that he will not attempt to form a parent-child or other relationship with the child(ren) and that any friendship formed between the donor and the child(ren) does not construe a parental relationship. In the majority of situations, however, the recipient(s) set up their legal contracts to prevent the donor from contacting them and the child, as well as ensuring that the donor severs any parental rights that he may be presumed to have.

Another consideration is compensation for the donor. Most sperm banks will compensate sperm donors for their initial donation, and may even contact them when their specimen is selected by an individual or couple for insemination. Recipients then pay the sperm bank, not the donor, for the donated sperm. Private brokers who solicit sperm donations may have their own protocols for financial compensation and payment of related costs.

There are some private organizations that may evaluate and give accreditation to sperm banks, such as the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Tissue banks may also be licensed by federal and state agencies such as the FDA or the California Department of Public Health. An experienced reproductive law attorney can advise you as to the legality and safety of a particular organization and make sure that you have all the necessary information to make an educated decision about your future family. It is vital to enlist legal counsel before embarking on a pregnancy using third party reproduction in order to avoid potentially painful complications. To speak with a lawyer today, call Pinnacle Law Firm at (818) 707-5236 today or contact us online.