Sperm donation is truly the gift of life, something that can bring the joy of parenthood for a childless couple. As the name suggests, it refers to the donation of sperms by a healthy male so that a couple can conceive with them. It is helpful for couples suffering from severe male factor infertility. Single women who want to start a family can also do it with the help of donor sperm. Sperm donation has both medical and legal implications. Therefore, it is important to know all about the procedure from the perspective of the donor as well as the recipient.
Sperm Donation: How does it work?
Sperm donation begins with collection of male sperms in the laboratory of a sperm bank. The donor is made to ejaculate the sperms in a clean container. These sperms are cryopreserved for a period of 180 days. Once this period is over, the sample is tested to check out the sperm count and quality. It is done to verify that these are healthy enough for being donated and whether they have withstood the freezing process. This procedure is recommended for first time donors to ensure that their sperms are good enough.
Donor sperms are used for donor insemination, transferring them .directly into the woman’s uterus with a thin catheter. During donor IUI, the woman is subjected to ovarian stimulation so that the chances of conception are maximized. In some cases, IVF is recommended with donor eggs. This is usually done when the woman has some female infertility issues. This involves ovarian stimulation, followed by retrieval of eggs from the woman’s uterus. The eggs are then lab fertilized with donor sperms and the embryo so formed is transferred in the woman’s uterus for pregnancy to take place.
Sperm Donor: Who Qualifies?
A sperm donor can be anonymous or someone known to the recipient. In both the situations, the recipient first has to make sure that the donor is suitable for the process. The donor needs to fulfill some conditions to qualify for sperm donation:
Age: Though a man seldom loses fertility with age, the sperms of older men are likely become genetically abnormal. For this reason, most sperm banks regard men aged between 18 and 39 as the most suitable donors.
Medical History: The donor has to be thoroughly evaluated for any medical or hereditary conditions. He has to honestly share his complete medical history too.
Physical Examination: A complete physical examination is done to check the current health of the donor. Comprehensive health tests are carried out, including those for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. The tests are to be taken every six months by men who donate sperms on a regular basis. Genetic testing is also mandatory to ensure that hereditary conditions are not passed over to the child conceived with donor sperms.
Semen Testing: The basic sperm parameters, namely sperm count, motility, and morphology are also tested. Semen samples are taken after two to five days of abstinence and examined. These tests are done to check whether the semen is fertile enough to yield pregnancy.
Psychological Testing: In addition to comprehensive physical examination, the donor needs to undergo psychological testing too. These tests are done to verify the emotional and psychological fitness of the donor; whether he is fit to handle the emotional implications of sperm donation. He may also be counseled about the relationship with the recipient and the child in future.
If the donor clears all these conditions, only then does he qualify for sperm donation. Most sperm banks pay for every sample that passes the screening test but the amount is just the compensation for the donor’s time. It is important to understand that money is not the motivation behind sperm donation. At the same time, the donor must consider the long term impact of his decision. Questions such as whether he would ever like to meet the children he has fathered anonymously should be dealt with. In case the recipient is known to him, the potential legal issues should be handled.
From the Recipient’s Perspective
From the recipient’s perspective, things are much simpler if they get the sperm from an anonymous donor. They just have to approach a reputed sperm bank and get a health sample of sperm for donation. On the other hand, if the donor is someone they know, a legal contract has to be signed. It should have clauses regarding the parental rights and financial consideration, if any.
Like the donor, the recipient also has to deal with some issues regarding the entire situation. She has to be clear about her partner’s role and feelings, considering that he knows that the child would not be genetically his. Also, she has to decide whether she would tell the child about being conceived with sperm donation. Since there are so many emotional implications of sperm donation, counseling becomes a vital aspect of the process.
At Gaudium IVF, the top infertility clinic in India, patients can get advanced treatment for male and female infertility, in addition to comprehensive gynaecological care and support. For a free second opinion, contact Dr Manika Khanna, the leading fertility specialist in India.