When my husband was diagnosed with azoospermia (his body doesn’t produce sperm), we asked a friend to donate sperm. Here’s what our friend said, plus what it’s like to be a potential sperm donor. This interview may help you decide if you should ask a friend or family member to donate sperm so you can get pregnant.
Learning about sperm donors and surrogate motherhood can be difficult because so many people can’t, don’t, or won’t talk about infertility problems! Sometimes the best way to get information and tips for sperm donation from friends and family is by reading books like Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates by Diane Ehrensaft. The more perspectives you have, the better you’ll cope with the exciting possibilities and potential problems. In this book you’ll get support, and straightforward advice – whether you’re a married couple or single woman looking for a sperm donor.
Asking a friend or family member to donate sperm is an alternative to sperm donor banks. It’s also a possibility for women who want to be single mothers, gay couples, and straight couples coping with infertility. Finding a sperm donor may be a solution to the sterility and cost of infertility treatments and clinics; it’s definitely something to consider if you’re struggling with male infertility!
First, a quip from comedian Steven Pearl: “I can’t believe that out of a million sperm, you were the quickest,” he said. No matter how badly you want to get pregnant, try not to lose your sense of humor. Life is easier when you look on the light side.
Should You Ask a Friend to Donate Sperm?
Here’s my Q & A with Darryl, the friend we asked to donate sperm. We’re the couple coping with infertility; he was single, 49 years old, and didn’t have kids of his own.
After a few days thinking it over, our friend said no. He would not donate sperm to us. We were mildly disappointed, but definitely relieved that he was honest! I’d much rather an honest no than a tentative or dishonest yes.
Darryl, what’s the best way to ask a man to donate sperm? Should the requesting couple share why they need help?
“I’m not sure it matters how you ask, at least to me it wouldn’t – it’s obviously an honor to be asked by someone who knows you well,” Darryl said. “I don’t think the background [of why the couple needs a sperm donor] is important. However, the person asked will undoubtedly be curious about the circumstances. The fact that the request is made at all suggests that there’s need and that’s all that really matters, I think. The why is irrelevant, and it’s really not anyone’s business.”
Why do men hesitate to donate sperm to people they know? What’s the difference between donating sperm to a clinic versus giving it to a friend or sibling?
“My reasons for declining were strictly of self-interest,” said Darryl.
“I feared I would develop such a strong emotional bond to the child that it would put me at emotional risk. If I didn’t know the people using the sperm, I would have no knowledge of, or relationship with the child, and therefore no risk.”
Would it be easier for a man to donate sperm if he already has his own kids?
“I think it might be easier for a man with kids to donate sperm to friends or family. In my case, that circumstance may well have mitigated my emotional risk, as I would already have a bond with children of my own.”
What would surprise people to know about being asked to donate sperm?
“For me, the most interesting aspect was the sense that the request formed a crossroads of sorts – it may well have been my last, best chance to have offspring,” said Darryl. “All these things combined made it a tough decision.”
What did you learn from their request?
“The request triggered many emotions in me,” said Darryl. “I realized that I would deeply love any child of mine, which is something I hadn’t really dwelt on before. The idea of having offspring was appealing when the opportunity presented itself – the instinctive need to procreate, perhaps? It made me consider my own mortality and the fact that my family line may end with me.”
For more info about men and infertility, read The Man’s Perspective of Surrogate Parenting.
If you have any questions or thoughts about asking a friend to donate sperm, please comment below. I can’t offer advice, but it may help you to share your experience. Sometimes writing can help us make big decisions, because writing brings clarity and insight.