Sperm Donation: Anonymous vs. Known Donation

Sperm donation is the best way for a man to assist another couple in becoming pregnant. Donation usually occurs at a clinic that assumes responsibility for the sperm and maintains records of donors to be reviewed by possible recipients. Donation, however, can be anonymous or known, meaning that the donor can choose to protect his name or have it out in the open. The decision of whether or not to remain anonymous is a serious one that warrants consideration. Below is a discussion of a few of the issues involved in deciding whether to remain anonymous or not. 

How Anonymous Donation Works

An anonymous donor is not completely anonymous. The clinic handling donate sperm will need to know the donor’s contact and statistical information. Statistical information includes eye color, height, weight, education and other facts about the donor that will be shared with potential recipients.

Anonymous donation, then, means that the clinic will protect the donor's information and identification from donors. After donation, the sperm will be tested for and other diseases; should the clinic identify a serious disease, they will contact the donor. This and the need to keep records of donors is why the clinic most likely will collect the donor’s contact information.

Future Contact

Anonymous donation prohibits any child developed from donated sperm from contacting the donor in the future. Unless the protections around the donor’s name fail, it is quite unlikely that the clinic will provide the donor’s contact information to the child. If the donor chooses to share his name and make it public, a child will have a much greater chance of finding and contacting the donor in the future.

Legal Liabilities

Remaining anonymous will protect, but not necessarily prevent the donor from incurring legal liability for a child. Because a recipient will be unable to find an anonymous donor, there is less chance for the recipient to later sue for child support or to fulfill other parental obligations. However, note that even anonymous donors may be responsible for handicapped or ill children when a condition was known to the donor but not disclosed on the donation form. Lying on a donation form can expose a donor to future liability.

Involvement in a Child’s Life

If a donor would like to know of any future children his sperm may produce, or be involved in the child’s life in any way, he may want to consider sharing his identity with potential recipients. This way, the recipient has the choice of keeping him involved in the child’s life, possibly permitting him to co-parent. Note, however, that this involvement may lead to legal and financial obligations for the child.


Remaining anonymous will better protect a donor’s privacy. In smaller communities, not all donors might want to advertise that they have donated sperm or, in any size town, might just prefer to keep the fact he has donated private. Known donation does not afford this same privacy.

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