Evaluating sperm donor options

Dr. Beth Taylor

April 17, 2023

So, you need donor sperm?


Donor sperm can be acquired in three ways:


  1. Sperm bank - most of the banks we use are in the USA.  You purchase units/vials of donor sperm and the units are shipped here and kept frozen in our storage tanks until you want to use them.  Each unit costs about $1000-1300.
  2. Someone you know. We call these “directed sperm donors” or known sperm donors.  Health Canada has regulations about how these donors are screened: questionnaire, physical exam, blood work, and a urine test.  Once they have been screened, then the sperm is released for your use.
  3. Internet matching services.  There are several apps and social media sites that will connect people who want to donate sperm with people who want sperm. On these platforms sperm donors offer their sperm for co-parenting or pure “no strings attached” donation. Some are wanting to do natural/home insemination or to come to a clinic and be screened as a “directed sperm donor.”  


I recognize that getting donor sperm from a bank or going through the directed sperm donor screening process (i.e. #1 and 2 above) comes with cost and time, but it’s safe.  To the best science can do, we reduce/eliminate the risk genetic and infectious disease transmission and our process ensures the parent and the children are legally protected. The same cannot be said about #3 unless it gets switched to #2 - directed sperm donation.


I was just looking at an app that matches sperm donors.  The people seeking sperm donors look just like our patients: single women, lesbian couples, trans men, and others.  The donors were gay men and straight men wanting to donate. Many of the donors didn’t seem clear on whether they want a parental role, though I suppose that would be defined once a connection is made.  


There is no doubt a way to make sperm donation from a connection make through an app or website (#3) safe, but it ultimately ends up looking like “directed sperm donation” through a clinic.


So, my advice is that if you decide to access a sperm donor from app or social media site, consider still going through a clinic like Olive for directed sperm donor screening and get a lawyer who will protect you, the donor and your child legally.

Inclusion of all gender and sexually diverse people is an important value of Olive Fertility Centre. We are continuously striving to create an environment of compassionate belonging where all of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are supported, valued and respected.

Olive Fertility Centre resides on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Tsleil-waututh Nations (Vancouver and Surrey clinics), of the Lekwungen people (Victoria clinic), of the syilx/Okanagan people (Kelowna clinic) and of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation (Blossom Fertility clinic in Prince George).

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