Not everyone is comfortable of the idea of sperm donation, but it does exist.
Are you considering the process? Or just plain curious? Whatever your intentions are, here’s some information you may want to know about sperm donation.
Sperm donation is the giving of a man’s (donor’s) sperm for the purpose of inseminating or impregnating a woman who is not necessarily his sexual partner.
Sperm donation can be done privately and directly to the receiving woman, or through a fertility or insemination clinic. Most people who receive sperm donations in Australia are heterosexual couples who suffer from male infertility, lesbian couples and single women.
1. Why Donate Sperm?
Obviously, the main reason behind donating sperm is to allow another woman, or couple, to fall pregnant and have a child. But there are several other reasons why men choose to donate their sperm, either anonymously or to someone they know privately – including feeling an obligation to help others experience the joy of parenthood that they may have experienced first-hand, or simply to help the less fortunate.
2. Sperm Donation Process
The sperm donation process is not difficult or complicated. Once the donor has contacted their nearest sperm bank or fertility clinic, they will be scheduled for an initial appointment. At this appointment, the donor will be asked to give a semen sample (they will need to abstain from sexual activity for 48-72 hours beforehand) and a pathologist on site will analyse it.
The potential donor will be given consent forms to fill out and a pathology form for blood tests which are part of the routine screening process. The following tests are carried out during the blood test:
- Blood group and Rh factor
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- HTLV 1+11
- Semen Culture
- Genetic disease screening test
Once the tests results come back, all results are given to the donor and the decision is made whether to proceed based on their outcome.
The next requirement is a legality and involves the donor attending two counselling sessions with an approved, nominated counsellor from the clinic. These sessions provide the opportunity to ask questions concerning the social and legal issues of sperm donation.
Once the medical checks and counselling requirements have been met, a time will be made for the donor to give their donations. The ideal amount of donations is 5 – 10, which can be completed over a time frame that is suitable (and realistic) to the donor.
Semen donations are produced and kept at the clinic to prevent contamination, allow processing of the sample in an optimal time frame and to ensure the identity of the donor.
3. Why is sperm quarantined for 6 months?
Donor sperm cannot be used unless the donor remains infection free six-months after the sperm was donated.
The donor is required to return 6 months after their last donation for a repeat blood and semen test, without which the semen cannot be used for insemination and the final reimbursement payments cannot be made.
4. Do You Get Paid To Donate Sperm?
In Australia, it is illegal to profit from the donation of sperm (Human Tissues Act 1982), however, it is expected that the donor will incur some medical and travel costs and the appointments take up a lot of time so the donor is reimbursed for this in a payment of approximately $300 per donation. (Half paid on the initial donation, the other half paid when the 6 month test is complete).
Different clinics will reimburse different amounts and private donations are, understandably, free, with no payment being allowed to change hands between donor and recipient.
5. What Information Is Given to The Recipients?
Non-identifying, natural characteristics are provided to the recipients to assist in choosing a suitable donor. A red haired, white couple may not necessarily wish to receive sperm from a dark skinned, dark featured donor and vice versa. Donor Profiles include information on:
- ethnic origin
- blood group
- physical characteristics – height, build, eye colour, hair colour, skin tone
- social traits – level of education, occupation, hobbies, special interests and skills
- medical history of the donor and his family
Donors have no legal responsibilities or rights to the children that are conceived as a direct result from their donations. Up to 10 different women can benefit from the semen sample, resulting in 10 genetically linked siblings.
6. Will my identity ever be released to a recipient?
Within Victoria, a State Register is held of all pregnancies and births from donor eggs. In Queensland and South Australia, there is no legislation at this time to keep a register, however, some centres do keep identifying information (such as name, date of birth and address) separate from their non-identifying information provided to recipient which may be cross referenced through their own database systems.
Once a child produced with the assistance of a sperm donation reaches the age of 18, they can request to access the identity of their donor. Should it be kept on file and is up-to-date, there may be a chance that any potential offspring may contact the donor once they reach the age of 18. Donor conceived children are entitled to know who their genetic parents are, should they want their information, or are ever informed that they are a result of a donor assisted pregnancy.