Tommy Samenspende


“You will need a sperm donor” – Tommy’s story

In this blog post, Tommy talks openly and honestly about male infertility. About what it has been like for him to recieve insemination treatment with his partner Jannie after they found out they would need a sperm donor to become parents.

His biggest wish is to break the taboo of male infertility. Tommy wants to help open the door for others, so they don’t feel alone.

Tommy and Jannie are currently expecting their first child, a little girl. We are very certain that she will have the most amazing parents. Both her mother and father will love her endlessly, no doubt about that.

Many thanks to Tommy for opening up and sharing his story!


Tommy and Jannie started talking about wanting to have children 6 years ago. At the time, they had been dating for 3 years. Unfortunately, Jannie injured her back, which caused a break in the “baby project”.

Some years after the accident, the couple decided to put more effort into getting pregnant again. They tried a lot of different things for about a year, without it bearing fruit. After this, Jannie started investigating possibilities for getting help, and the couple booked an appointment for a consultation with us at Diers Klinik.

Check of sperm quality

In the consultation, we recommended Tommy to have his sperm quality checked. And the couple therefore decided to have a sperm analysis carried out at the clinic.

Unfortunately, the analysis showed that there were no sperm cells in the sample, which we informed him about in an email.

“I think, It can’t be true – it must be a mistake”, Tommy says about his first thought.

We encouraged him to have another sperm analysis, which showed the same result. He then went through another examination at the hospital. Unfortunately, all studies showed the same result. There are no sperm cells in Tommy’s sperm.

Tommy was probably born without the ability to produce sperm cells. He has done nothing wrong, and unfortunately, he cannot change it either.

This is a shock to Tommy. Previously, there had never been any indication that something could be wrong, and he had never thought that this could be the reason why Jannie had not become pregnant.

“I thought, I’m probably not man enough if I can’t do it.”

Tommy tells us that it was a very hard message to receive, and he couldn’t help but thinking why they as a couple had to go through this. He also had a feeling of letting Jannie down. Now, it was his fault that she couldn’t have the children she wanted.

Shock and guilt

At first Tommy was in a state of shock. He couldn’t come to terms with the fact that he was the person who received this message:

“I’m healthy, I exercise a lot, I’m not overweight, I’ve never smoked, I don’t drink much alcohol – it simply cannot be true!”

It took a long time before Tommy accepted the message. He wasn’t himself; he was angry, irritated and sad. He kept thinking that that email should never have been sent to him. It must have been for someone else.

At the same time, Tommy couldn’t avoid feeling guilty. He thought a lot about what he might have done wrong as a child, as a teenager or earlier in his adult life. He needed a reason, something he could point to and say: That’s why it happened.

Others in the same situation

One of Tommy’s big wishes is that more focus be put on this topic. As he says, infertility seems to affect many men of his generation. In his parents’ generation, they didn’t have the same challenges. Therefore, he hopes that the scientists will do more research into male infertility. Perhaps the modern lifestyle of the past 20 years compared to the lifestyle of the previous generation has had an impact?

“What have we done wrong?”

Tommy often asked himself that question, and he clearly hopes that some answers can be found. This will hopefully spare other men from the hardship and unhappiness of receiving the same message in the future.

Tommy very quickly sensed that the whole topic of his infertility was a big taboo. It wasn’t something people talked openly about. For that reason, Tommy has set his sights on breaking the taboo.

However, he found out that there were a few well-known people who had struggled with the same challenges. This made a big difference for Tommy:

“I no longer feel so alone in the world”

Among other things, he came across some male stand-up comedians who have been open about their challenges. This was absolutely relieving for Tommy to experience. It is important that we all talk about it – also men who have a larger audience.

Regardless of the reason for having ended up in that situation, Tommy came to a conclusion relatively quickly:

“If this is our new reality, then we have to look at the remaining options. Let’s not focus on limitations but on opportunities”

The decision to use a sperm donor

Jannie and Tommy had never before considered the possibility of using a sperm donor. Tommy did not know anyone else in his family or circle of friends who had been faced with having to choose a donor. It was a completely new world and reality to deal with.

The couple knew they were too old to start an adoption process. So, it quickly became clear that fertility treatment with a sperm donor was their last chance to have the child of their dreams.

Both Tommy and Jannie of course needed some time to deal with the message they had received before they started with the first attempt. Both needed to come to terms with the new reality.

Tommy was the first of the two to be “okay” with the decision, which also says something about the grief Jannie had to process. As Tommy puts it himself:

“I had to accept that I cannot deliver what is necessary. Jannie had to agree to get pregnant with another man’s sperm”

For the couple, the decision to start treatment was also a decision about being open about needing a sperm donor.

Selection of sperm donor

Tommy wanted to have a quick look at the “menu card”, as he puts it. He wanted to find out if they could find a donor who looked as close to himself as possible.

For the couple, there were several issues to consider when choosing a donor. They looked both at hair colour, height, weight and at the donor’s educational background and interests. It was important to them that the personality also had similarities with Tommy’s.

Tommy has thought a lot about what it will be like when the couple have their little daughter. When people say, “she is a lot like her father”, he hopes to get a feeling that it’s true. Both in terms of appearance and in terms of demeanour.

At the same time, such thoughts still turn on a small evil voice that says, “But she’s not yours”. Fortunately, the voice takes up less and less space as the pregnancy progresses, but Tommy thinks it will probably be difficult to get rid of it completely.

Donor category

Jannie and Tommy have also spent a lot of time talking about the donor category. While Tommy was adamant from the start that he wanted an open donor, Jannie preferred an anonymous donor.

For Tommy, it was crucial that he did not want to deprive the child of the opportunity to learn more about his donor, should the child wish to do so. However, he also understood Jannie’s thoughts and arguments. Therefore, they made a note with pluses and minuses. Ultimately, they ended up choosing an open donor.

Good match

Even now, when their little girl has not been born yet, it seems that Tommy and Jannie have made the right choice of donor. For all the scans, their little daughter has been very active with her little legs. This have made the couple smile a lot because Tommy is a very active runner. So, she definitely has her active legs after him.

The insemination treatment

It was a strange day for both Jannie and Tommy when they came for their first treatment at Diers Klinik. They were nervous and excited about how it would all turn out.

Beforehand, they had talked about how they wanted it to be done. They decided that they would hold hands during the treatment.

“We looked deep into each other’s eyes and had a very special connection”

Jannie became pregnant in the second attempt, but the subsequent scans were difficult for them to get through. If the treatment was not successful or if the scan were to go badly, the couple “couldn’t just go home and try again”.

Becoming a father to a donor child

Tommy has given a lot of thought to the way he will become a father:

“Masculinity has to be parked somewhere […] you may not be able to deliver what’s needed, but you are still very much a man in other areas”

He has talked a lot with others, which has also helped to broaden his perspective. A lot of people have told Tommy that you step into character in your role as a father when you see your child for the first time. And Tommy completely agrees that the definition of a father is not dependent on a sperm cell.

For their little girl, it will not matter much that she was created with the help of a sperm donor.

“She is our child”, Tommy says

He has already taken full ownership of the pregnancy and is looking forward to meeting his little daughter, filling her with knowledge and showering her with love.

Jannie and Tommy have made a conscious choice that the donor will only be referred to as a donor. They don’t want to use the donor’s alias from the sperm bank, as they think it will make him more human, more personal, and they don’t need that. However, this does not change the fact that both are deeply grateful to the donor.

A special understanding from the father-in-law

At first, Tommy had no one to talk to about his situation. There was no one in his circle of friends who had experienced the same thing. Therefore, no one who fully understood the feelings he had.

But very quickly, Tommy found good support in his father-in-law, who, together with his wife, has adopted Jannie.

At the time, Tommy’s parents-in-law did not have the opportunity to get an answer to why they could not have children. So, they chose to go for adoption and adopted Jannie.

Tommy has had many good and deep talks with his father-in-law. Due to his own experience, he has a very special understanding of Tommy’s thoughts and frustrations. In this way, the two men have been able to use each other as support, and they have also shed a tear together.

Broad support

Tommy has also been open at work, from which the couple has also received a lot of support. Tommy’s colleagues have acted both as cheerleaders and as a kind of therapists when needed.

Although Tommy was convinced that no one else in the family had had similar challenges, he later found out that his cousin has had her two children using an egg donor. It has brought them even closer together, and they both agree that openness is the way forward. They want to contribute to breaking the taboo.

As Tommy puts it:

“Something as natural as having children needs to be talked about”

Good advice from Tommy

Talk to someone

When Tommy received the message that there were no sperm in his sample, his thinking became very limited. He therefore emphasises the importance of talking to others. It has to be someone you feel safe and confortable with, and it is important to keep talking about it. The more you talk about it, the better it gets.

Tommy’s own thoughts were primarily negative at first, but other people’s words helped him open his eyes to a new perspective. For instance, people would say:

  • “You are no less of a man for that”
  • “You will be an amazing father – it will become apparent when the child is born”
  • “How the child came to be does not matter for the father role”

Give space to your feelings

Tommy spent some time feeling sad, frustrated and angry. “Why me?”, he thought several times. And you must allow yourself to have these feelings, he says. There must be room for the frustrations and to process the sadness that comes with the message.

“Let out your emotions – it’s allowed”

However, he also emphasises the importance of getting to the point where you look at what options you have. What the next step entails may differ from person to person or from couple to couple, but getting there is important.

Finally, Tommy would like to remind everyone that the parental role is not affected by whether the child was created with the help of a donor or not. All the frustrations and all the joys of having a child will be exactly the same for all parents.

When we ask Tommy what made him share his story so candidly, he says the following:

“I hope that my contribution can make others feel less alone”

Here at Diers Klinik, we just want to say thank you for your openness and honesty, Tommy. You are a huge inspiration and role model. Your daughter is very lucky to have you as her father.