Sperm Donation: Risks and Complications

Sperm donation is relatively simple, but not without its complications. Recipients of donated sperm may be surprised at the complications they encounter when choosing or using donated sperm. Below are a few of these complications.

Misleading Donor Information

At the time of donation, the sperm bank and donor create a donor profile containing information about the donor. Information such as eye and hair color, height is typically contained on the donor information sheet, and is also easily verified. However, other information such as family history and education are not so easily verifiable. This leaves open the possibility that the donor will lie on his information sheet to be chosen as a donor and receive payment. Because of this, it is extremely important to thoroughly research the sperm bank and donor prior to choosing.

Unviable Sperm

Even though a bank will perform through checks on the donation and donor, there is always still the possibility that the sperm will not be viable when used. When frozen, the entire donation or just a few sperm can be damaged. There is no guarantee that the sperm will be able to create a pregnancy when used.

Sperm Rejection

Some recipients and donors are incompatible. Uterine linings, hormone levels and other aspects of the recipient’s body can reject or kill sperm, making it impossible to cause a pregnancy. This does not mean that the recipient’s body will unreceptive to all donated sperm, just that specific donor. It is impossible to predict with certainty whether a donor and recipient will be incompatible. Really the only means by which this will become clear is if the recipient does not become pregnant after inserting the donated sperm.


Even if a pregnancy results from the sperm, there is no guarantee that the pregnancy will be successful and result in a live birth. In every pregnancy there is the risk of potential complications, including a miscarriage or still birth. Unfortunately, there is very little way to prevent miscarriage. As always, if you feel any anxiety or worries about your pregnancy after becoming pregnant, immediately contact your physician.

Unforeseen Congenital Defects

Despite the extensive research and disclosure of donor information, there is always the chance that a baby will have a genetic or physical deformity. Recessive genes can appear either on the side of the donor or recipient at any time and cause a baby to develop improperly. As it is impossible to predict the interaction of donated sperm and the recipient’s egg, the possibility of a deformed or sick baby is always present.

Future Donor Contact

Prior to using donated sperm, the recipients should decide whether they want to use a known or anonymous donor. While the bank will provide contracts for all parties that should state that the donor has no claims over any child developed from his sperm, there is always the risk that the child will want to contact his biological father or that the donor will break the contract and seek out the child. The contracts will protect all parties to some extent, but cannot prevent the possibility of the donor showing up some day and demanding access to the child. This could lead to a court case for custody.

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