Sperm donation is a procedure that has been gaining popularity around the world. Due to the changing beliefs about family building and the development of technology, more people are considering it as an option. However, it raises a lot of concerns and factors that interested individuals should know.
Below are all the information that you need to know regarding sperm donation. This article will give you an in-depth discussion on the procedure, its historical milestones, and the steps involved in the process. We will also talk about your involvement in the method, whether as a donor or as a recipient. These matters include the physical, emotional, and legal aspects of sperm donation.
Sperm donation involves a man who donates his semen. Semen refers to the fluid that contains sperm and is released by the penis during ejaculation. Sperm donation aids people who have complications and problems with conceiving a baby. These donations are usually for the following people:
– Women who have no male partner and would rather have a baby on their own
– Women who want to have a child with their female partner
– Couples where the male is infertile due to problems with his sperm
– Men who wish to avoid the risk of passing on an infectious or genetic disease
Achieving pregnancy with the use of donated sperm is referred to as third-party reproduction. A person who gives his sperm can choose to be anonymous or not. If the man does allow himself to be known to the recipient, then the process is called direct donation.
The first procedures of sperm donation and artificial insemination in humans started around the late 1700s. It was performed by a surgeon named John Hunter, who aided a woman’s pregnancy by injecting her husband’s sperm in her.
The same procedure was repeated in 1884, this time with a physician named William Pancoast. The artificial insemination proceeded by injecting sperm obtained from a donor to a woman under anesthesia. The woman had a healthy baby, although she was unaware that she became pregnant through a sperm donor.
While the technology of artificial insemination was slowly developing, numerous arguments about it began to erupt. In 1909, there were several debates regarding the moral, social, and religious aspects of the procedure. During these times, objection came mostly from the Church. They emphasized the importance of natural reproduction through coitus and the sin of masturbation. More discussions continued and reached Europe at around 1940.
However, despite the disagreements and arguments that people had, the demand for sperm donors persistently increased. The first successful pregnancy that was made possible through a frozen sperm happened in 1953. Since then, the sperm bank industry rose and developed in 1970. It was at this time that the procedure was eventually commercialized.
Sperm donation, other times called artificial insemination, is a procedure that involves a donor sperm to fertilize an egg of a woman. The whole process requires a lot of preparation from the individual. Before going through it, the people involved should undergo a consultation. During this part, there will be discussions about their medical conditions, health status, personal history, and possible risks. “It is essential to maximize safety from the risks of inadvertent transmission of an infectious disease,” Joseph D. Schulman, M.D. adds. There will also be briefing regarding physical, emotional, psychological, and legal issues that may arise.
Usually, sperm donation lasts from 2 to 6 months. So far, there are no health risks related to donating sperm, but the person must be mindful of its long-term impact. For men, you should know what you’re getting into, especially how the decision can affect you when you are older. Before going through the process, it is essential to ask these questions:
Are you comfortable with the idea of being the biological father of a child or children that you may not meet?
Are you willing to meet the child you conceive if they wish to?
Will your current or future family accept that you donated sperm?
Being a sperm donor also involves legal matters. Both man and woman can hire a lawyer to draft a contract, especially if the donor and recipient know each other. The contract’s purpose is to define their rights and obligations as a parent. Moreover, this will also clarify matters regarding financial concerns in raising the child.
Starting the donation process is relatively easy. First, a man will enter a private room where he will watch pornographic material. He will then masturbate into a sterile container. Once the semen sample is collected, it will undergo mixing in a cryopreservative solution and then sealing and freezing with liquid nitrogen. Then, the semen sample will be stored at −321°F until it is ready for artificial insemination.
Once the semen has been frozen and slated for donation, the sample will remain in quarantine for around 6 months. Afterward, the sample will undergo a test for infectious diseases such as HIV. During the freezing process, some samples may be damaged depending on the semen or the donor. That’s why only a small percentage of sperm donors qualify for pregnancy.
If the semen passes the necessary tests, the frozen sample will be thawed and evaluated. Here, there will be inspections on the sperm movement, quantity, and quality. If the sperm meets the requirements, its owner will become a qualified donor for the procedure. However, it is essential to note that there are limits and guidelines regarding the donation of your sperm. For example, some sperm banks limit the use of your sperm to control the number of children you may have.
Sperm donation is a rigorous process that involves a lot of standards. The first step would be filling out an online form where you will give necessary information about yourself. If you pass this level, you will be asked to come to the office for an interview. The succeeding follow-up visits will involve semen analysis, signing of consent forms, and completing detailed profiles. After that, a few tests will be conducted to ensure that you are in the healthiest state for giving sperm.
Before you can donate your sperm, you must meet specific qualifications and undergo primary screening. The screening is a necessary step to ensure that you carry no risk factors or infectious disease. The Food and Drug Administration requires this screening for all those interested in becoming sperm donors. Additional tests may be necessary for other states.
One of the factors that may affect your ability to donate sperm is your age. Most sperm banks set the age limit at 18–40 years old. However, other sperm banks may have a broader age bracket.
Another factor that can come into play is your family’s medical history. You will be asked to give these details for the past two generations of your family. The purpose of evaluating the medical history is to determine hereditary diseases that may affect your qualification for sperm donation. The clinic may not accept a donor if he is a carrier of hemophilia, color blindness, hereditary cancers, cystic fibrosis, and HIV.
Doctors will also look at your sexual history. This information is personal as it will require details about past sexual activities to check for infectious diseases. Lastly, your aspects regarding your life will also matter in the testing. You will provide details relating to your hobbies, education, habits, vices, and drug use. You may also need to submit voice recordings and pictures and videos of yourself.
After you take into account all of these factors, you will now have to go through these tests:
– Physical Exam: During the physical exam, doctors will be taking samples of your blood and urine. There will be tests conducted to check the samples for infectious diseases like HIV. If you are a regular sperm donor, you are required to undergo physical exams every 6 months. This process is necessary so that you can monitor the changes that happen to your body.
– Semen Testing: Each sample of semen will be analyzed to check the sperm movement, quantity, and quality. Before conducting the tests, you will be required to abstain from sex or masturbation for 2 to 3 days.
– Psychological Evaluation: For this evaluation, you will receive counseling regarding concerns about your connection with your biological children. There will be inquiries if you are open to sharing your personal information in the future or your relationship with the recipient. Apart from this, if you know the recipient of your sperm, they may also be advised to have counseling.
If you can pass these tests and successfully go through the screening process, you will then receive a consent form to sign. This form will be proof that you do not carry any risk of genetic conditions or sexually transmitted diseases. However, if the results of the test are positive, you will receive notification about it. Then, you will get advice on the specific treatment and counseling you need.
Donating in a sperm bank has a payment incentive. However, your sperm must first pass the sperm bank’s screening and testing process. If your sperm passes all the standards and tests, you can make about $100 per vial and earn $1000 every month. The rates can go higher depending on the sperm bank.
The payment you receive will also depend on the frequency of your donation and the number of vials you can fill. Usually, buyers purchase a flask for $500–900. These prices are applicable for intracervical insemination or intrauterine procedures. However, with methods like in vitro fertilization, the price of a vial is lower because it has less complicated processing.
Getting a sperm donor involves a lot of decision-making and pondering over the effects of the procedure. An individual needs to consider the emotional and psychological impact of the process on the child and the parents. Once this part is all smoothed out, a couple may obtain sperm from someone they know or someone anonymous.
Most people choose to obtain sperm from someone they know because they are sure that they are safe from infectious disease. More or less, they are familiar with the person’s characteristics, habits, and history. However, other individuals would instead choose someone unknown to them to avoid legal challenges. But Dr. Pilar Calva, M.D. warns that “anonymous sperm donation can present many serious problems.”
Regardless, both cases will require you to get the sample from registered sperm banks or cryobanks, also known as fertility clinics. In each cryobank, you can choose the profile of the donor that you prefer. Women, along with their partners, are also given counseling to assist them in narrowing down their choices of the donor. Clinics also include pictures of the donor, as well as their baby pictures, voice recordings, and accomplished questionnaires.
When a person has chosen a donor, they can now order the sperm. Patients will create an account in a cryobank website where they order vials of sperm. There is particular sperm type for women depending on whether they choose to undergo intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization. Each woman or couple would typically be asked to purchase three to six vials per cycle, which cost around $800 to $1000 each. The rest of the process will take around a month to finish.
For women, the process of getting pregnant with a sperm donor starts with getting a treatment plan from your doctor. This part involves consultation, an initial scan, and blood tests to check for certain infectious or inheritable diseases. Once you are done with the testing, you will now attend counseling sessions regarding the sperm treatment that you will receive. You will also get an orientation about the protocol, the process, and the medication you might need. When you have settled all these, you will now match with a donor who will sign consent forms with you for the procedure.
To achieve pregnancy, the woman will undergo artificial insemination via intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization.
In intrauterine insemination, the sperm is injected directly into the uterine cavity. This process must happen during ovulation. The woman’s cycle is monitored to make sure that her eggs are mature. According to David Adamson, M.D.
“IUI is often the first treatment considered for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or other ovulation problems because fertility medications make cycles more regular.”
Meanwhile, in in vitro fertilization, the eggs of the woman are extracted from the ovaries. Then the eggs will be fertilized outside the body by the donor sperm. The fertilization is done in a lab before it goes back into the womb where the embryo will develop.
Women usually choose intrauterine insemination because it is cheaper, has a shorter process, and is less invasive. However, in vitro fertilization is recorded to be more successful.
To obtain a donor sperm, you may visit a commercial sperm bank or fertility clinic. You may want to research the availability and location of sperm banks in your country. Once you have found a sperm bank, you may select a donor with your preferred ethnic background, physical appearance, and personality.
Some donors may prefer not to have ongoing contact with the child while the rest may offer to co-parent. On the other hand, you can also obtain sperm from someone you know, called a direct donor. Just like anonymous donors, direct donors are also subjected to screening and tests to determine their qualifications.
In terms of pregnancy rates, success may range from 60 to 80%. However, this may depend on the type of procedure done with the woman. For pericervical insemination patients, the success rate is 49.5%. Meanwhile, for intrauterine insemination patients, the success rate is 86%.
Apart from the type of procedure, the age of the woman is also a significant factor. There is a higher success rate for women who are under 35 years old and have no infertility problems. However, women may have lower chances of getting pregnant if they are over 35 years old. Another factor would be experiencing ovulation problems and other conditions related to the reproductive system.
If the woman is still not pregnant after some cycles, there may be further evaluation and procedures. The doctor may check the woman for any possible disease or problem in their heath. Ultrasound and hormonal tests may be necessary as well for further monitoring. In other circumstances, the doctor may even advise the woman to take ovulation-stimulating drugs.