When considering whether or not to use donor sperm, you'll have a number of pros and cons to weigh before making your decision. The process has both medical and intangible advantages and disadvantages.
Pro: Workaround for male infertility issues
If you are part of a heterosexual couple in which male infertility is the main obstacle to having a baby, using donor sperm (technically "therapeutic donor insemination") may be the fastest and most effective method of conception. It is not always the only solution, however. Doctors also commonly perform intrauterine insemination (IUI) to overcome some causes of male infertility and an assisted reproductive technology called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can overcome problems related to sperm quality or quantity.
Con: Your child may wonder about 'Bio-Dad'
It's natural for a child to want to understand her biological roots. If you choose to disclose your child's biological origin to her as she grows older, you may find that she wants to explore a connection with her biological father. If the donor was a friend or family member, that may be possible, but the donor might not want to have that kind of relationship with your child. If the donor was anonymous and asked not to be contacted, finding him most likely won't be an option.
However, if you (and your partner, if you have one) prepare yourself for this talk and approach your child with an open and accepting discussion, you can emphasize the importance of how family is more than just blood ties. That still may not be enough to stop your child from pursuing the connection, though.
Pro: Donor sperm may be your only conception option
If you're a lesbian couple or an aspiring single mother by choice, sperm donation is your only option for conception. While you can and should explore the possibility of adoption, if it's your wish to become a biological mother and/or give birth yourself (or if adoption isn't a possibility for you), using donor sperm will have to be part of your fertility treatment. You can choose the donor from among your friends and the family members of your partner (if applicable) or apply for an anonymous donor.
Con: You may not know everything about the donor's medical history
While the sperm bank (or cryobank) will do its best to perform a through check of the sperm donor's medical history, he might not be aware of a medical condition or disease in his family history — or he might choose not to mention it. If the donor wants to remain anonymous, it can be difficult, if not downright impossible, for you to track him down later for more information or testing should your child show symptoms of a disease or medical condition.
There is no one right answer as to whether sperm donation should be a part of your fertility treatment. You should draw up your own personal list of pros and cons and weigh them carefully to help you see which way you're leaning. Be sure to include comparisons to any other options you're considering, such as adoption. Finally, discuss the issue with your partner, your family, and your fertility specialist before you make a final decision.
Updated August 2014