Maybe the dating-marriage-kids plan didn’t work out as you’d expected — or maybe going solo was part of your plan all along. Whatever the reason, if you’re considering having a baby on your own, you’re in good company. According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 40.6 percent of all births in 2013 were to unmarried women. In 1960, it was only 5 percent. This includes both women whose partners are in the picture in an unmarried capacity and those who decided to do it alone.
There are a lot of nuanced and complicated factors to consider, of course, when deciding whether to conceive on your own, but the cost involved is a big one. The fiscal implications can vary, though, depending on the method of insemination. What is and isn’t covered by health insurance depends on your insurer and where you live. Currently, only 15 states have laws that require insurance companies to offer coverage for fertility treatments, so it’s best to read through your health insurance policy thoroughly. (For more information about infertility insurance coverage, click here.) Here are some common methods and their associated costs:
Free Sperm Donor
This is exactly what it sounds like — an individual (whether it be a friend or a stranger) donating his sperm for your conception. The high costs associated with a sperm bank may be why some women are turning to this lower cost, albeit riskier method. The demand has spawned an online world of free sperm donation websites — all unregulated. Among these sites is knowndonorregistry.com and privatesperm.com.
The donors provide their medical information and physical attributes; but there’s no verification, so proceed at your own risk. The exchange can take place in a sterile cup to be used with a syringe or via natural sexual intercourse. Unlike the sperm bank scenario, recipient and donor always get to meet face to face. Since disease screening is not available, be prepared to ask about it and pay for it yourself.
According to Scott Brown, director of client experience at The California Cryobank, this puts the onus — and the risk — entirely on your shoulders. “Using a free volunteer puts you at legal, physical and medical risk,” Brown says. Legally, he tells us there is very little to no protection at all. "Contracts are often thrown out by the courts if a donor changes his mind." Brown advises that if you do insist on going the free donor route — say, with a friend who has consented — protect yourself by having a licensed physician do the insemination. This way, it can be clear to the courts that he was only meant to be a sperm donor.
Fertility attorney Rose Pondel of the Family Formation Law Center, says that having a written contract is crucial. Although laws differ by state, generally speaking, as long as the agreement contains the following three elements it has a high likelihood of being enforceable. First, you must have a written contract — no verbal agreements. Both parties signing the contract must be represented by an attorney. And the insemination must be performed by a licensed physician. You can find your state's guidelines for parental rights associated with sperm donation at the American Fertility Association.
Sperm banks are facilities that collect and store donor sperm. Screening procedures for these donors and testing of the sperm is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to Brown, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 births yearly result from donor sperm in the United States.
To become a donor, requirements include: three generations of family history, genetic testing, repeated STD (sexually-transmitted disease) screening and even height requirements. The sperm is frozen for six months then tested again since it can take that long for certain STDs, including HIV, to be detected. "We can also detect other illnesses during the screening process. Among them are a high frequency of cancer, mental illness, and early onset heart disease," Brown says.