Getting Pregnant: Known Donor vs. Sperm Bank – Which To Choose?

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So you and your partner have decided to get pregnant…congratulations on the big decision. Now it’s time for the next big choice…should you use a sperm donor you know, or should you go with the anonymity of a sperm bank?

Both options can have their pros and cons, and it’s definitely an important choice to make. Just remember that there is no wrong or right choice. There’s only the choice that fits the needs of you and your partner.

Here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a known donor versus a sperm bank…

Known Donor:

Many lesbian couples tend to consider this as an option first, since they already know the donor and can get an idea of what the child may look like, any health issues that could arise, and the overall personality of the potential friend or acquaintance that will be donating.

But there are other factors to consider if you and your partner decide to go the known donor route….

The Pros of a Known Donor:

  • Fresh Sperm: Yeah, it may sound gross, but the reality here is that sperm from a sperm bank is going to be frozen. Fresh sperm gives you more of a change from the insemination to take, which increases your chances of getting pregnant.
  • Known Medical History, Physical Appearance…etc: You won’t have to play much of a guessing game in terms of how your child will look physically, or what his or her personality will be like since you already know the donor. Plus you have the advantage of knowing any medical issues that could come up.
  • Co-Parenting Potential: This is only if it’s wanted. Most lesbian couples may choose to not have the known donor in the child’s life as a father or caretaker, but the option is always there if you find you need help or just want your child to know the donor.

Cons of a Known Donor:

  • Visitation Rights Potential: There’s always that “maybe” that your known donor may want to sue for visitation rights or custody. While that doesn’t mean it will happen, it might be something that will always stay at the back of your mind, causing unnecessary stress.
  • Differences of Opinion: If you do chose to keep him in your child’s life, his opinion on how to raise him or her may differ from you and your partners, causing conflict. Always keep this in mind if you choose to include the known with raising your son or daughter.
  • Costs Can Add Up: While the sperm may be free, other costs can arise such as the legal fees for drawing up contracts, sperm analysis. STD testing, and any other tests that may need to be done. You may also have to pay for travel expenses if your donor lives a large distance from you and your partner.

Sperm Bank:

It’s a popular choice from all types of couples, including the lesbian couple. That’s because of the anonymity as well as the convenience of knowing the sperm is viable and tested for diseases.

Here are some things to consider if you and your partner decide to get pregnant with a sperm bank…

Pros of a Sperm Bank:

  • Waived Parental Rights: Sperm donors are required to waive all parental rights. This means you’ll never have to worry about an unexpected visit from the donor or legal fights for custody. Essentially, once you buy the sperm, you own it.
  • Disease Screening: Tests for common STDs and genetic diseases are already done by the sperm bank, so you don’t have to worry about having it done yourself.
  • Open or Known Donor Options: A lot of sperm banks offer this option. It means that the donor would be willing to be contacted when the child turns eighteen, if you and your partner agree to this, of course.

Cons of a Sperm Bank:

  • Expensive: It’s definitely not cheap to get sperm through a sperm bank. With all of that convenience and tested sperm comes a price…and it’s usually very high. Be sure it’s an investment you and your partner can handle financially.
  • Frozen Sperm: The frozen sperm isn’t going to be as fast-moving or fast-acting as fresh sperm. This could make the getting pregnant process a bit longer than desired. So you’ll have to have patience if using a sperm donor from a sperm bank
  • Impersonal: While anonymity works for most couples, you still don’t know everything about the donor like you would if you have a known donor in mind.


When it comes to making the important decision of what kind of sperm donation to use, you and your partner need to sit down and discuss the options, pros and cons, and what you think will work best for the both of you.

Taking the time will make a big difference on not only your child’s future, but you and your partner’s as well.

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