Sperm Donation

In simple words, sperm donation is the process of donating sperm to help people intending to become parents to have a natural child. This can be a perfect solution to male infertility. Besides, sperm donation can be utilised in the treatment of a partner in lesbian couples or a single woman who wants a baby but doesn't have a male partner.

Reasons to Opt for A Sperm Donor Program

There are several reasons to opt for a sperm donor program.

·       Male having genetic disorders.

·       The presence of risk of transmitting genetic health issues to the future child.

·       Male having azoospermia. This is a health condition where sperm production is zero.

·       Couples dealing with severe male infertility issues and unable to undergo an ICSI cycle.

·       Recurrent miscarriages

Who is a sperm donor?

In general, a sperm donor is an anonymous person who has passed all the genetic as well as biochemical tests for any type of disease or abnormalities. A person with good health and the best semen characteristics can become a sperm donor. Before donating his sperm, the applicant must go through an extensive screening process. Donor screening may consist of blood testing, genetic analysis, specimen screening, physical evaluation and more. The process covers the following:

·       Detailed interviews about the donor's family background and sexual behaviour; the doctor may also ask the donor his reasons for joining the program.

·       Family history is considered and evaluated in detail.

·       The collected semen is analysed for normal sperm morphology, forward sperm cell motility and sperm cell count.

·       The donor is also examined for various infectious diseases, such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV and more.

·       An ABO-Rh blood test is conducted.

·       The doctor conducts a genetic test to make sure the donor doesn't have cystic fibrosis.

The entire screening process can take around 4 weeks to 5 months, depending on the fertility centre to which the person is applying.

Choosing the Characteristics of a Donor

There are different ways to match the partner with the donor. While choosing a donor, it is advisable for couples to give a list of characteristics that they want in a prospective donor. For example, eye colour, body build, height, ethnic group, hair colour, complexion, texture and more. Besides, consideration can also be given to the Rh factor or certain blood types. If the utilisation of donor sperm leads to Rh incompatibility, then the doctor will inform the recipient of the same along with the obstetrical significance of such incompatibility.

The legality of Sperm Donation

Sperm donation is 100 percent legal. However, as a sperm donor, you should know that your sperm will be used to create a baby. That means your biological link will be there in the baby, but as per the rules, you can't claim the baby's parental rights or custody.

Possible Complications and Risks

One of the major risks in this process is an infection, especially for women who use the sperm. However, this generally happens when the sperm banks don't follow the necessary protocols or are very lax in obtaining and handling sperm. Besides, sperm banks may not offer a 100 percent guarantee that the sperm they have is free from genetic disease. 

There are certain genetic conditions that still don't have standard testing. Sometimes, the complication can move beyond health. It also includes some ethical and legal aspects. That's why every sperm donor is asked to sign a proper legal agreement with the sperm bank as well as the recipients if required.

1. How many times can sperm be used?

In general, sperm obtained from a single donor can be used for around 10 patients or women. Once the limit is reached, the donor needs to retire from the program. Besides, it will also depend on the storage condition.

2. What is unwashed and washed sperm?

Washer sperm has been medically processed by the sperm bank before storing or freezing, and it is generally used for IUI- Intrauterine Insemination. On the other hand, unwashed sperm is used for ICI- Intracervical insemination and can be washed at the IVF centre before the IUI procedure.

3. How much sperm does one need to donate?

Only one sperm can lead to egg fertilisation. But to become a sperm donor, you need to have a better sperm quantity, i.e., around 300 to 500 million sperm cells in every ejaculation. The average limit is around 200 million sperm in each ejaculation.

4. How can one prepare for a sperm donation program?

You can become a sperm donor only after a semen analysis. To have healthier sperm, you should avoid drugs and smoking and limit your alcohol consumption. Besides, don't use hot tubs, as the heat destroys sperm cells.

5. How long does washed sperm survive?

As per the doctors, washed sperm can survive for around 6 to 12 hours. But in some cases, it can also last up to 48 hours. But it is not good to store it for long.

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