Sperm: Where to Find It

About once a week a patient who is hearing her clock ticking really loudly asks about how to go about getting pregnant, even if there is no guy in her life. And, in reality, an actual flesh and bones guy is superfluous for the single woman who decides she wants to have a baby. Sperm is the valuable commodity. While there are a number of ways to obtain sperm, each method has its own set of financial, legal, and practical considerations.

Posted on | Lauren Streicher, MD | Comments ()

About  once a week a patient who is hearing her clock ticking really loudly asks about how to go about getting pregnant, even if there is no guy in her life. And, in reality, an  actual flesh and bones guy is superfluous for the single woman who decides she wants to have a baby. Sperm is the valuable commodity. While there are a number of ways to obtain sperm, each method has its own set of financial, legal, and practical considerations.

Intercourse with a “sperm donor”  has the obvious advantage of being free…unless you count the expensive bottle of wine, dinner, candles, and French lingerie. The disadvantage of course is that you will have to have sex with someone you may not want to have sex with…potentially more than once. Aside from the “ick” factor, you also need to worry about sexually transmitted infections and having to face him in the future along with possible potential paternity issues with a biological father who suddenly decides he wants to be “involved.”

That leaves insemination, which requires squirting sperm into the vagina, the cervical canal, or directly into the uterus. So where do you find this sperm? While you can always go with someone you know, most women chose an anonymous donor from a sperm bank. Aside from  the obvious advantage of not having to have sex with someone you don’t have a relationship with,  you get a maximum amount of genetic, medical, and personal information about the person who will be the biological father of your child.


While it might be tempting to go with a friend, how much do you really know about most of your friends? Even your good friends? The sweet guy who has lived next door to you since you were kids is not likely to divulge that he is a promiscuous bisexual, and has dabbled in IV drug use. You have a lot more control over “what you are getting” and get a lot more reliable information when you go through a regulated sperm bank. That wasn’t always the case.


While insemination with donor sperm has been used for over a hundred years, there were no criteria to regulate and screen donors until 1979, when a landmark study that showed that most donors were medical students, friends of the physician, or the physician! Today if the sperm bank is accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks. you can be assured  that what you are getting has been properly screened, and properly prepared. You also know you are getting good swimmers .

Unlike the guy next door, you can get a lot of information. In addition to  race, height, weight, coloring, education and religion, some sperm banks will let you know if the donor prefers Mozart to hip hop, sailing to Latin dance. Some even provide baby pictures, audio interviews, personality profiles, SAT scores, and essays. There is no limit to the amount of information you can get …but you will pay for it. These banks are profit motivated and every bit of extra information comes at a price. The alternative? You can always take your chances with the guy next door.

Blog written by Lauren Streicher, MD
Dr. Lauren Streicher is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University’s medical...