A couple may not be able to conceive for several reasons. But if the reason is a condition in the male partner due to poor sperm quality or quantity, ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) using donor sperms may be an option.
Donor insemination is also considered in conditions where there is a high risk of transmitting a genetic disorder to the offspring from the male partner or where there is a high risk of transmitting infectious disease to the offspring or woman from the man.
Where can one get a sperm donor from?
Your ART or Fertility Clinic will obtain sperm from an appropriate semen bank. On request for semen by your Fertility Clinic, the semen bank will provide the Clinic with a list of donors (without the name or the address but with a code number) giving all relevant details such as height, weight, skin colour, educational qualification, profession, family background, freedom from any known diseases or carrier status (such as hepatitis B or AIDS), ethnic origin, and the DNA fingerprint (if possible). Neither the Clinic nor the couple shall have the right to know the donor identity and address. Use of sperm donated by a relative or a known friend of either the wife or the husband is not permitted.
Requirements for a Sperm Donor
The semen bank will ensure that the donor is free of HIV and hepatitis B and C infections, hypertension, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, and identifiable and common genetic disorders such as thalassemia. The age of the donor would not be below 21 or above 45 years. An analysis is carried out on the semen of the individual and the semen would have found to be normal. The blood group and the Rh status of the individual would be determined and recorded. Other relevant information of the donor such as height, weight, age, educational qualifications, profession, colour of the skin and the eyes, record of major diseases including any psychiatric disorder, and the family background in respect of history of any familial disorder will also have been recorded.
The Insemination Process
A donor’s sperm can be used with IVF or IUI. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization. Before intrauterine insemination, ovulation stimulating medications may be used and you will be monitored to determine when the eggs are mature. The IUI procedure will be performed around the time of ovulation. The donor semen sample will be washed by the lab to separate the semen from the seminal fluid. A catheter will then be used to insert the sperm directly into the uterus. This process maximizes the number of sperm cells that are placed in the uterus, thus increasing the possibility of conception. The entire procedure takes only a few minutes and you may feel little pain.
Insemination with IVF:
You will receive fertility medications to prepare your eggs for retrieval. Once retrieved, your eggs will be combined with the donor sperm and any resulting embryos will then be transferred back to your uterus for implantation.
Success with a Sperm Donor
Women under the age of 35 with no history of fertility problems have the best chance of becoming pregnant with donor sperm. Because it is possible to do one to two inseminations per cycle, women who fail to conceive after several cycles may be evaluated for fertility problems.
Choosing the option of a sperm donor is a very crucial decision you will be making. You or your partner may feel less comfortable in raising a child who is not genetically connected to you. Couples considering donor insemination will be offered counselling regarding all the physical and psychological implications of treatment for themselves and potential children.
You need to be aware that a child born through ART has a right to seek information (including a copy of the DNA fingerprint, if available) about his genetic parent on reaching 18 years, except information on the name and address – that is, the individual’s personal identity – of the donor. You are not obliged to provide the information to which the child has a right, on your own to the child when he/ she reaches the age of 18. However, you should not attempt to hide this information from your child should an occasion arise when this issue becomes important for him/her.