Long-term Effects of Anonymous Sperm Donation

Since its inception, sperm donation has long been associated with the word “anonymous,” but as family dynamics and demographics have changed, technology has evolved, and donor-conceived people have discovered their past, a growing realization of the long-term and harmful effects of anonymous sperm donation has emerged.

Psychological Effects of Anonymity for Donor-Conceived People

The long-term effects of mandated anonymous sperm donation have on a very fundamental level created people who don’t know who they are, psychologically affecting their basic sense of identity. There is a basic human want, need, and curiosity about one’s origins that can create an all-consuming desire to discover more about oneself. In a study published in the Harvard Medical School Journal of Bioethics, 84 percent of participants reported a shift in their “sense of self” upon learning they were donor-conceived. Of these participants, 91 percent were from anonymous sperm donations. Almost half of the respondents reported seeking psychological help afterward, either with psychotherapy alone or with psychiatric medicines.

In another survey, Psychology Today states that 2103 donor-conceived people were asked if they wished that their parents would have used a known donor. Over 73 percent of offspring with heterosexual parents said yes and over 58 percent of offspring with LGBTQ+ parents said yes. Many donor-conceived people report a need to know why they have certain personality and physicality traits and share a desire to learn more about their ancestry, and genetic makeup. They are not looking for a parental figure, they just want to know who helped to biologically create them.

Erin Jackson, 37, conceived with donor sperm and founder of We Are Donor Conceived tells CBC News, “I think anyone that donates sperm should understand that they’re making people and that those people have a right to know where they come from.” This lack of basic information creates a void in some donor-conceived people that is difficult to overcome and affects all aspects of their lives.

Medical Consequences of Sperm Donor Anonymity

There can also be medical consequences with donor anonymity. Although many sperm banks give a donor profile that includes self-reported medical information, there is often no updated information after the initial donation. As donors get older, medical conditions may appear. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even mental illness may not emerge until later in life. Psychology Today also reports that 84 percent of sperm donors in studies state that they have never been contacted by their sperm bank to update their medical information. Donor-conceived people who are not informed of any new medical updates do not know if they are predisposed to certain conditions and therefore may not seek earlier screenings, lifestyle changes, or preventive medicines.

Social Impacts on Donor Anonymity

Social consequences of anonymous sperm donations have also come to light. In the past, biological half-siblings may have encountered each other unknowingly. There are of course the stories of half-siblings growing up as neighbors, playing sports or attending school together never knowing they were genetically related, but as technology has evolved and a new generation of donor-conceived people has grown up on the internet, biological half-siblings are finding each other online and finding out there are many more half-siblings than what their parents had been told would be possible.

Wendy Kramer and her son Ryan, who was conceived using anonymous sperm donation, created the Donor Sibling Registry in September of 2000, certain that other donor offspring would have the same curiosity as her son about his origin and other possible family members, but also knowing there was no other outlet for it. To date, the website has connected over 23,000 half-siblings who have come to the site looking for their origin story with many finding out that they have more than a few half-siblings. Kramer tells STAT, “My donor was promised no more than 10 children, and we just hit 20 last week.”

Half-siblings are not the only ones being found via the internet. Joanna Scheib, a professor of psychology at UC Davis, who researches psychosocial issues related to reproductive technologies, tells STAT, “There’s been a slow realization among sperm banks that this generation of children is very tech-savvy. If they want to know who their donor is, they’ll find out.”

Donors are realizing they have been lied to about the maximum number of offspring that would be allowed, and donor-conceived people are struggling with suddenly learning they have multiple half-siblings. Kramer goes on to say about long-term harms, “It’s not like they’re creating widgets in a factory . . . this is an industry creating human beings, so you’d think there would be more accountability and ethics. The lack of regulation and the lack of oversight has had real ramifications.”

Impacts on Anonymous Sperm Donors

As we reported in March of 2022, the easy run to the sperm bank for some quick cash is of yesteryear. In the past, sperm donors were typically young college students who were paid a small fee for their donation, but many were not properly educated or counseled about what it means to donate, and how their feelings may change in the future. Now with DNA testing kits, even those who wish to remain anonymous may have no choice. “Nobody could have anticipated 15 years ago that somebody could find out – because one of their cousins took a 23and Me test – that they’re the offspring of some sperm donor in, say, Seattle,” says Dr. Peter McGovern, a professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, in STAT.

There are sperm donors who wish to remain anonymous, but others also feel a need to connect with their offspring. One donor tells STAT, “I know that people can be very curious about their ancestry, especially when a link is unknown, so I don’t want to deny the children the option to find out. I am also just plain curious to see what has come of this little endeavor.”

With the popularity of DNA testing kits, and sperm banks adjusting their policies for more transparency, the demographic has changed slightly. “Instead of 18-year-old medical students, donors now tend to be slightly older men who are happy to be contacted,” says Nina Barnsley, director of the Donor Conception Network.

New Era for Donors and Donor-Conceived Children

As of April 1st, 2023, a new law has taken effect in the UK. The law was technically passed on April 1st, 2005, but now that this law is 18 years old, this will be the first year that donor-conceived children will be 18 and be able to request information regarding their donor. They will be able to request the donor’s name, last known address, year and country of birth, medical history, and any half-siblings they may have, according to Semafor.

Going forward there will be no more anonymous sperm donors in the UK, and the country hopes that other countries will follow suit. Zeynep Gurtin, a professor at University College London on women’s health and an authority member of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, writes in The Guardian, “It is only right that donor-conceived people will now, for the first time, have a choice about how much they want to know about their genetic origins and the people who helped create them.

In the U.S., a patchwork of laws governing the rights of donors, and donor-conceived people vary from state to state, however, in June of 2022, Colorado became the first state to pass a law giving protections to donor-conceived people. The new law not only states that they have a right to learn the identity of their sperm donor when they turn 18, but they are also able to learn about their paternal medical history before that.

As with everything related to assisted reproduction, donors, donor-conceived people, and society writ large have begun to change the way they view sperm donation, a transformation accelerated by advances in technology. Sperm banks are adjusting their policies, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) now strongly encourages disclosure to donor-conceived people and recommends that donors and recipient parents be advised that future changes in the law may affect any agreements they sign today. Transparency and greater access to information are essential in helping all people in this process make better-informed decisions, and we applaud the positive changes.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

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Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.