How does Sperm Donation Work?

Popularized by the mainstream media in recent times, sperm donation as a process has become a much sought after option by couples and individuals who are keen on conceiving a baby. The process involves a man voluntarily donating his semen so that the sperms can be used to help fertilise an ovum (egg), by injecting it into a woman’s reproductive organs. The donors that donate the sperms can choose to be anonymous or known to the recipient. Below are some pointers to help you get a better understanding of the entire process.

Why is it done

The main purpose of sperm donation is to help an individual or couple conceive a baby. For instance, for a woman who might not want a male partner for conceiving a child.

As a donor, you might opt to donate your sperm to help those who are unable to conceive due to various reasons. Also, if you donate at a sperm bank, you will most likely get paid after you have passed the screening test.

Are there any health risks involved?

There are no such health risks known for sperm donation.

What’s the process like?

This is a key step of the sperm donation process, as it involves extensive research about the potential donor.

  • Physical examination

The donor should be the healthy male between 18 to 39 years of age. The height should be above average for a normal male. Samples of blood and urine are collected to rule out identifiable infectious and genetic diseases. Also, if he is selected and becomes a regular sperm donor, the physical tests are conducted every six months to ensure a healthy sperm collection.

  • Semen analysis

The semen is checked for quality, quantity and motility of sperms.

Family medical history: The donor must provide the detailed medical history of his family, or at least the last two generations of his family. If any history suggests a hereditary disease, then the donor is disqualified from donating sperm.

  • Psychological evaluation

Here the donor is evaluated regarding his preferences of revealing his personal information to the biological children born using his sperms,  and about contacting them in future. The to-be donor must agree to avoid all contact with the children that will be born using his sperm.

  • Personal and sexual history

A detailed history of donor’s sexual activities, drug use or any other personal information that may suggest a possibility of contracting any infectious disease is taken. Details regarding their habits, education, interests and hobbies are also considered.

In case the potential donor tests positive for any medical conditions during the screening process, he is informed and referred to treatment or counselling and disqualified for the time being.

How is my consent ensured?

The process of screening usually takes around 8 weeks to 6 months depending on the sperm bank.  If all the above examinations turn out in favour of the potential donor, then he has to sign a consent form stating that he denies having any risk factors for sexually transmitted infections or genetic conditions.

What does the donation process involve?

Before donating the sperm sample, the donor is asked to abstain from ejaculation via sex or masturbation for 2-5 days. The sample is collected in a sterile container provided at the sperm bank by masturbating in a private room at the clinic itself. The semen sample is frozen with the help of a cryopreservative solution and is quarantined for at least six months. The donor is again tested for infectious diseases, like HIV and if the results are still negative, then the frozen sample is thawed and examined for sperm quantity, quality and mobility again. This reassessment is done because the sperm samples from some men have higher chances of getting damaged during the freezing process. If the semen sample meets the quality standards, then the man is selected as a donor. If the donor decides that he wants to retire from the donor program, he has to return after 6 months of his last donation for the last test of infectious disease.

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