How Do You Ask Someone To Be Your Sperm Donor?

Illustration of a man holding a trophy concept of a chosen sperm donor

For anyone considering using a sperm donor, there is often a question lingering in the background: do you use someone that you know? If so, how do you ask someone to be your sperm donor?

After all, it is quite an unusual topic. Even when speaking to someone we have known for years and trust implicitly, such a conversation can be hard to bring up. There are many reasons to consider using a known sperm donor, including:

  • The fact that your child will, eventually, be able to know who their parent is
  • You have a better handle on who that person is, including their traits and personality
  • Getting information on things like genetics and biological history is easier with known people
  • If you wish to go down the route of home insemination, knowing the person helps
  • If you choose to go down the co-parenting route, using a known person is easier

Of course, asking someone to be a sperm donor is pretty big. You need to think about many questions before you ask someone this important, life-defining question. While it is easy to focus on the benefits of such an arrangement for you – having a child to a known quantity – it also has implications for that individual. You need to ask yourself questions like:

  • Will this impact them down the line? Will they want to be involved – too involved?
  • Could this impact their relationships down the line? Can they take that risk?
  • If you are close friends, could this cause problems down the line between you?
  • If anything goes wrong with the child, how involved will/should the donor be?

As you can see, many questions must be answered before you ask someone to be your sperm donor. This is not an easy subject to broach, even if you can find a positive answer to all of the above. Asking someone to make that kind of commitment to you is a massive undertaking, no matter how close you are as an individual.

Is Asking Someone To Be A Sperm Donor Legal?

Yes, it is. Many people choose someone who they know to be part of the process. It makes sense; you know the person, their overall traits, and their situation in life. If you use a random donor, you always have the risk that there could be unforeseen complications. You also have the issue that, down the line, they might wish to be more involved than you would want.

Having a known sperm donor involved helps many people make the process work. Working through the questions is easier than trying to do so with a donor you have never met. If that donor later wants to be involved with the child, or the child wishes to be involved with the donor, it can create complications. What if you and the donor do not get on? What if you find them problematic?

Using a donor you know makes it easier to feel confident going into the process. Given that being unstressed is a major part of conception being successful, removing that uncertainty can help. In terms of legality, though, it is completely legal to ask someone to be your sperm donor. The questions that come up in such a discussion are, more often than not, ethical or moral as opposed to legal.

What About The Sperm Donor’s Legal Rights?

These are often confusing discussions because there are not many legal rights that a sperm donor receives. For example, a sperm donor has no say in key factors in a child’s life, such as:

  • Names appearing on the birth certificate: the donor’s name will not appear here
  • Being the legal guardian or parent of that child or have any legal say in their life
  • Having any particular say in how the child is brought up or how or where they live
  • Contributing to the life of the child financially – this is not an expectation or obligation

This is the case if you use an HFEA-licensed clinic in the UK. If you use a non-HFEA licensed clinic for sperm donation, though, then some of these legal factors can change. This is why, for some people, it makes more sense to use a sperm donor that they know. This helps you set boundaries and agreements before anything is “donated” – by using a non-HFEA clinic, many potential issues arise.

Now that you hopefully have a better grasp on the potential legalities that you need to consider let’s look at the best ways to ask someone to be your sperm donor. If you decide to go outside of a clinic and do things the “old-fashioned way”, then you might find that the legality changes significantly. You could, if you conceive the child together, make the donor the legal father of that child – taking on all of the parental responsibilities that come with being a parent.

With that in mind, if you decide to have them donate their sperm in the typical way, make sure that there is an agreement in place. It might even be best to have this agreement written with a lawyer so neither side of the agreement can change their mind or renege. If you go down the route of insemination through intercourse, then the legalities change entirely; you must understand this and look at this side of things very carefully before continuing further.

Asking Someone To Be Your Sperm Donor: How Do You Start?

Are They Interested?

First, you need to consider how interested that person might be in being a sperm donor. Some people will be happy to help, especially if they have no interest in having children. Others might feel uncomfortable with the concept, though, and it is better to try and determine their interest in the subject.

If possible, bring up the subject with them over a social interaction. You could go out for lunch and ask – without being too direct – about their views on sperm donorship. This might help inform you of their likely answer.

Are They Trustworthy?

While we have broken down some of the legal considerations above, the law alone will not stop someone from trying to challenge legality. As such, you might find that, when you dig deeper, they are the kind of person who renege on their agreements. If you are using a sperm donor, the last thing you need is someone who adds extra stress by suddenly deciding they want to be co-parents six months in!

Make sure that if this person is going to be a sperm donor and only a sperm donor, not a co-parent, they are comfortable sticking to that agreement. Using an HFEA-licensed clinic makes it easier to enforce this stuff, but you want to avoid having to go to court to get the verdict set in stone.

Asking The Right Way

The next part of the process is considering how you will ask them. You have ascertained that you can trust them and make this agreement work. You have also determined that they are interested – awesome, now what?

The next step, for the most part, will be about asking them in a sensible way. You do not want to just blurt out, “Can you be my sperm donor!?” – you want to ask in a way that feels responsible. It depends on how close you are with this person; if they are like a close friend, it might be easier to “spit it out” – you know the person well enough, though, so think about how they would like to be asked.

Also, please ensure you do not ask them in any way when they are inebriated. We all say things that we might not exactly mean when we are not of a sober mind. Ask them when they can say yes to sobriety; you can celebrate together if they say yes!

Whatever way you ask – over text, phone call, email, dinner, wherever feels best for you and that person – do it respectfully. Most people take the idea of having a child extremely seriously; you are not just asking them for a sperm donation, you are asking them to bring a life into this world with you.

Even if they will have 0% involvement in the child’s life, that is still a huge ask.

Remember what you ask of this person – it is a massive commitment. They might say no or react in a way you did not expect. This might make things awkward, at least for a little while. So, take that into account with who, when, and how you ask.

Determine The Health Of The Donor

Now, you must consider what you are looking for in that donor. The main thing to look into would be their health. Do they have any potential health issues that have come up during the conversation? Do you know of any hereditary health issues in their family? This is something you need to discuss. Generally, it would be poor etiquette to ask someone these questions before asking them to be your donor.

Find out if the person wishes to be your donor first and foremost; then, you can start asking them about their health. If they agree to this process with you, either through a clinic or simply doing it together on your own, then you can begin to take a more detailed look at their health history to rule out any potential problems. Naturally, this should be done with the consultation of a doctor.


Every individual who wishes to have a child will have in their own mind an idea of how they want this experience to play out. It is not easy to come up with a simple, catch-all solution. If you wish to have someone you know play the donor role, you can legally do so. The questions then revolve around how interested they are, the compatibility between you both, the agreements put in place, and how the child will be conceived. Every factor changes the terms of the agreement slightly, so think carefully.

Take all of the above into account, though, and you should find it much easier to come up with an agreement that suits both parties. Consider all of the information above carefully, as who you use and how the child is conceived will have a massive impact on the future of you, the donor, and the child.

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