Experiences and attitudes of Danish men who were sperm donors more than 10 years ago; a qualitative interview study

Stina Lou*, Stina Bollerup, Morten Deleuran Terkildsen, Stine Willum Adrian, Allan Pacey, Guido Pennings, Ida Vogel, Anne-Bine Skytte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: More knowledge about the long-term impact of sperm donation is essential as the donor's attitude towards donation may change over time. Personal and social developments may prompt a rethinking of previous actions and decisions, or even regret. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore the experiences and attitudes of men who were sperm donors more than 10 years ago.

METHODS: From May to September 2021, semi-structured, qualitative interviews were conducted with 23 former donors (> 10 years since last donation) from Cryos International sperm bank. Two participants were non-anonymous donors and 21 were anonymous. The interviews were conducted by phone or via video (mean 24 minutes). All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and rendered anonymous. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

RESULTS: The analysis showed that most men had been donors for monetary and altruistic purposes, and now considered sperm donation as a closed chapter that was 'unproblematic and in the past'. Most men valued anonymity and emphasized the non-relatedness between donor and donor conceived offspring. Knowledge about recipients and donor offspring was seen as 'damaging' as it could create unwanted feelings of relatedness and responsibility towards them. All men acknowledged donor conceived persons' potential interests in knowing about their genetic heritage in order to understand appearance and personal traits, but also emphasized the donors' rights to anonymity. Potential breach of anonymity was generally considered 'highly problematic' as it was expected to disturb their families and force a relationship on them.

CONCLUSION: This study reports on former donors who might not have volunteered for research due to lack of interest or protection of privacy. The majority of men valued anonymity and clearly demarcated a line between sperm donation and fatherhood, which was enforced by not knowing about the donor offspring or recipients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0281022
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright: © 2023 Lou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Humans
  • Male
  • Semen
  • Attitude
  • Tissue Donors
  • Spermatozoa
  • Denmark


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