Sperm donation

Sperm donation is a process that involves collecting the semen and giving or donating it. Semen is the fluid or thick liquid which is released during ejaculation. This is a procedure to assist the couple or an individual to conceive a baby. When these sperms are collected, they are stored in a special environment and then when required, inseminated into the female's reproductive organs. This process is also known as intrauterine insemination. If the sperm donation is used for the fertilization of the matured eggs in the laboratory, then the process is known as in vitro fertilization. The man who is a sperm donor can be anonymous or known to the recipient. If the donation of the sperms is done by a person known to the recipient then it is called directed donations. The man who donates sperms has to go through a complete medical check-up in order to screen for any risks or problems before donating the sperms. It is very important for a person to know the possible psychological, emotional and legal issues of the process of sperm donation.


Why it’s done? What are the risks? How to prepare for the procedure? FAQ Section

The sperm donation procedure is common and normal. This is also a safe and effective procedure for the ones who want to conceive a baby. The person can choose on his own to help a female conceive a baby and can help the women who do not have a male partner but want a child or in cases where the couple is facing a problem with male infertility. 

If a man donates semen to the official sperm bank, then the bank pays back to the sperm donor for every donation that gets passed the sperm bank's screening process. The payment made by the sperm bank usually compensates the expenses and the time a man devotes for donating the semen. The amount of money is low for sperm donation because the major intent is not earning money out of it, but donating sperm to help others.

The procedure of sperm donation is a safe and effective procedure. It does not carry any type of risk with it.

If a man is considering the donation of sperms, then he should be prepared for the long-term impact of this decision. The man should be prepared for this process mentally and consider all aspects before donating the semen.

By donating semen, the man is biologically the father of a single child or multiple children to whom so ever the semen is donated. The sperm donor might or might never be able to meet these children in life. Also, there can be scenarios where the child who was conceived and grew up with a particular person's semen might want to meet him one day when the sperm donor might not want to. It depends on the sperm donor whether to inform or discuss with the family or spouse about sperm donation or not. All these should be well thought through before proceeding with the process of becoming a sperm donor.

If the man is known to the recipient, then it is important to discuss and understand the potential legal issues completely. In such cases, the man who is donating semen should consider hiring a lawyer to prepare a legal contract that states the parental and financial rights and obligations, clearly.

Before the sperm donation

Some of the steps which are taken into consideration are as follows:

  • The doctor takes a complete medical history and physical examination test, of the patient, before performing the procedure note is made of the age and weight, any past surgeries, allergies to any medicines, previous personal history and family history of any diseases, cardiac problems, diabetes, or any other severe issues. In the physical examination, the doctor examines the sperm donor very carefully for any other concerning signs and symptoms.
  • The doctor also advises some tests before the donation of the sperms including some blood investigations. This is to check for any bleeding disorders or any other problems which the donor might not be aware of.

 

The detailed screening, as per the guidelines laid out by the authorities, has to be conducted for the man who wants to officially become a sperm donor. This includes both the types of donors i.e. the ones who know the recipient and also the ones who are anonymous to the recipient. The criteria to be fulfilled are as follows:

  • Psychological evaluation – The psychotherapist talks to a person who wants to be a sperm donor regarding the psychological and emotional issues, if any, regarding sperm donation. Also, the healthcare provider assesses the mental fitness of the man who wants to be a donor. The donor is asked a few questions such as if he wants his information to be shared with the future children or if he can be contacted by these biological children. If the donor has a female partner, then the counseling will be of great help to her too. If the sperm donor is known to the recipient, then the questions about the type of relationship between the donor and the recipient would be asked.
  • Age – Most of the sperm banks prefer a sperm donor between the age group of 18 to 39 years. However, some sperm banks set the age group between 18 to 34 years.
  • Medical history – The donor is asked about the complete medical and family history especially if there is any genetic or hereditary disorder. If the donor has any of such congenital disease, then the person may not qualify for becoming a sperm donor.
  • Testing of the semen – Before becoming an official sperm donor, the person has to give many semen samples. These samples are tested for quality, quantity, and movement. The fertility criteria for a man to be declared fertile include the score of more than 15 million sperm count per millilitre of a sperm sample. Also the sperm should have a normal structure and shape, and above 40% of the sperms should be moving.
  • Physical examination – There will be a physical examination to confirm the overall health of the donor. The donor is asked to give blood samples, urine samples and also would be tested for any infectious or autoimmune diseases e.g. AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B 2 C & syphilis, in addition test such as blood group, blood count, blood sugar & thyroid function test can also be done. If the person becomes an official sperm donor, then such physical tests will be done every 6 months. The donor should consult the doctor immediately if any changes in the health are observed.
  • Genetic testing – The blood sample will be taken in order to test if the donor is a carrier of any type of genetic disorder that can be a life-threatening problem for the recipient or the child such as cystic fibrosis. Such a condition causes severe damage to the lungs. The other criterias of interest would be knowing about the family history and racial backgrounds. This is because many diseases, such as sickle cell anemia in African-American people, are related to racial backgrounds. Many sperm banks disqualify people who have a risk of a genetic disorder.
  • Sexual and personal history – The man should provide a complete detailed history of the sexual activities till the current day. Any addictions like smoking, drug abuse, alcohol, etc. need to be assessed to see if the man is at any risk of developing an infectious disease or a chronic disease. The person is asked to share everything about the hobbies, education, personal habits, and interests. The person is also asked to give some audio and video recordings.

If there are some abnormal findings during the screening, then the donor would be informed and further referred for counseling and treatment. If the screening results are normal, then the person will be asked to give sample donations of the semen and hence, complete the further testing.

The person who passes the screening test, fulfilling all the criteria, is asked to sign a consent form which states that the person denies any risk factors for genetic infections or sexually transmitted infections. The person who becomes a sperm donor can also choose to share the contact information with the biological child or children in the future. 

 

Before the sperm donation, the donor is asked not to ejaculate either through masturbation or sex, for especially 2 to 5 days before donating.

 

During the procedure:

  • The sperm donation process is done at the sperm bank.
  • The donor is sent to a private room with a sterile container with a lid.
  • The donor has to masturbate and collect the semen into that container.
  • This container is then handed over or placed in a safe and special environment.

 

After the procedure:

  • The sperm sample will be covered properly and will be cryopreserved or frozen and kept for at least 180 days in quarantine. Further, there will be a test to check for any infectious diseases.
  • If the results are normal, then the sperm sample will be evaluated again for the quantity, movement, and quality. Some sperm samples are more prone to damage during the cryopreservation process. This damage during the freezing time can also vary for the same person from time to time.
  • If the criteria of the quality standards are fulfilled by the sperm sample, then the person can become a sperm donor.
  • The guidelines and limits of bearing biological children may vary according to the sperm banks and in different countries, for e.g. In United Kingdom, a sperm donor can father am maximum of 10 children only.

Q1. What is the maximum duration for storing a sperm sample?

A1. The good quality sperm samples do not damage even after several years of deep freezing or cryopreservation.

 

Q2. Does the use of a cryopreserved sperm sample increase the chances of developing birth defects?

A2. There is no negative effect of cryopreservation on the sperm sample. The samples are properly screened and evaluated before giving to the recipient.  Hence, the chances of getting a birth defect from a deep freeze sperm sample are equivalent to that for a child born from normal sexual intercourse.

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