Sperm donation is a treatment option for men with male infertility and for single women and same-sex couples. It can be a daunting process but there are lots of support services available.
Currently, HFEA rules state that donors can only help up to 10 families. This number is set to reduce the risk of accidental consanguinity and inbreeding.
1. You can donate up to 10 times.
You can donate sperm up to 10 times, but it will take a lot of time and commitment. Most fertility clinics and sperm banks want donors to commit to making weekly or bi-weekly donations, for at least 6 months. This gives them the opportunity to monitor your semen and ensure that your samples are healthy.
Donors are also required to go through a thorough screening process before they can begin donating. This includes a physical exam, semen testing, and genetic testing. They are also required to provide a detailed medical and family history. All of this is to ensure that the donor is in good health and has a low risk for sexually transmitted infections.
Most countries and sperm banks have set limits on the number of children a single donor can create through their donation. These limits are designed to reduce the chance of inadvertent consanguineous conception (cross-family blood relationships).
This is why it’s important for sperm donors to understand the limit before they begin donating. As the UK’s fertility regulator, the HFEA, points out, it is in the best interests of both donor-conceived people and their parents to maintain a limit of 10 families per donor. This is also to ensure that any children born as a result of a particular donor’s donation are not too close genetically.
2. You can donate as often as you like.
Sperm donation is a third-party family building option that helps single women or couples (same sex female or heterosexual) conceive a baby. The Mayo Clinic explains that donated semen can either be injected into a woman’s reproductive tract or used to fertilize mature eggs in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) lab. Because of the potential risks involved with using donated sperm, it is recommended that donors undergo medical and psychological screenings before donating. Donors are also required to sign legal documents that sever all rights to children born from their sperm.
As a result, most sperm banks only accept applicants who are willing to donate regularly and for a long period of time. These donors are usually paid monthly, which can add up to a significant sum over the course of a year. But donating is not easy: Donors must undergo testing for STDs and other diseases, and are required to abstain from ejaculation for up to two days before each donation.
In addition, sperm banks typically prefer tall men with a healthy BMI and a high sperm count. Many also have education requirements, as families seek a donor with a college degree to signal intelligence and motivation. Donors are also asked to avoid alcohol, cigarette smoke, and certain medications to ensure the quality of their semen.
3. You can donate for as long as you like.
The idea of donating sperm sounds pretty simple: Walk into a clinic, ejaculate into a cup and make some money. But the reality is a lot more complicated. First, you’ll have to pass a rigorous screening process. The number of would-be donors who make it through the multiple rounds of tests varies by sperm bank, but they can be as low as 1 percent.
Once you’ve made it through the initial round of testing, most sperm banks will want you to donate weekly or twice-weekly for a year or more. They know that sperm samples can fail after being frozen and thawed, so they’re more likely to stick with you if you commit to a long-term schedule. You’ll also have to undergo a psychological evaluation and counseling.
Most sperm banks will also have minimum age requirements, typically younger than 40. That’s because older men tend to have lower sperm counts and motility, making it less likely they’ll lead to pregnancy. In addition, sperm banks often prefer applicants who have a college degree or higher. They think that shows intelligence and motivation, Centola says. Plus, it demonstrates that you’re able to follow through on your commitments. But if you don’t have a degree, no worries – you can still qualify to donate. Just be sure to get some school-related financial help if you need it.
4. You can donate anonymously.
Sperm donations are regulated by the FDA and donors must pass a physical exam, semen evaluation and processing, and infectious disease testing (HIV Types 1, 2, HTLV Types 1 and 2 as well as Hepatitis B, C, Syphilis and Gonorrhea) before they can begin donating. They must also provide their family and medical history. The donor’s initial semen samples are then quarantined for six months, with repeat infectious disease testing, before they can be used.
Most jurisdictions limit the number of families that a donor can create from his sperm to reduce the risk of consanguinity and inbreeding. However, the limits don’t necessarily apply to children born from the same sperm donor’s offspring. The most common limit is ten families, though some countries have much lower limits.
In some cases, sperm donations are made between friends, couples and even strangers who have been struggling to conceive. While these informal arrangements can be cheaper, they come with a number of legal risks and are often unsafe.
In addition to the health and safety issues, there’s a potential emotional impact too. Donating sperm opens the door to creating new life, which is exciting and rewarding. But it’s important that those making the decision are fully aware of what they’re getting into – and that any existing or future partners are on board too.