Sperm donation is the provision by a man of his sperm with the intention that it be used in the artificial insemination or other ‘fertility treatment’ of a woman or women who are not his sexual partners in order that they may become pregnant by him.
The man is known as a ‘sperm donor’ and the sperm he provides is known as ‘donor sperm’ because the intention is that the man will give up all legal rights to any child produced from his sperm, and will not be the legal father.
Sperm donation enables a man to father a child for third-party women, and is therefore, categorized as a form of third party reproduction.
Sperm may be donated by the donor directly to the intended recipient woman, or through a sperm bank or fertility clinic. Pregnancies are usually achieved by using donor sperm in assisted reproductive technology (ART) techniques which include artificial insemination (either by intracervical insemination (ICI) or intrauterine insemination (IUI) in a clinic, or intravaginal insemination at home). Less commonly, donor sperm may be used in in vitro fertilization (IVF). The primary recipients of donor sperm are single women, lesbian couples and heterosexual couples suffering from male infertility.
Donor sperm and ‘fertility treatments’ using donor sperm may be obtained at a sperm bank or fertility clinic. Sperm banks or clinics may be subject to state or professional regulations, including restrictions on donor anonymity and the number of offspring that may be produced, and there may be other legal protections of the rights and responsibilities of both recipient and donor. Some sperm banks, either by choice or regulation, limit the amount of information available to potential recipients; a desire to obtain more information on donors is one reason why recipients may choose to use a known donor or private donation.