Fathering a child requires two partners. Yet to this day, the female partner is usually looked down upon when a couple suffers subfertility. The male partner is rarely considered or talked about.
Abnormalities of the male reproductive system play a major role in subfertility. When there are significant abnormalities in the sperm, fertility becomes almost impossible; even with new techniques. Therefore, the only option left for these couples is to use donor sperm in order to achieve pregnancy.
A sperm donor is a noble individual of society who donates sperm periodically to a sperm bank to fulfil another individual’s/couple’s fertility wishes. The samples are thawed and used when a couple comes looking for a donor.
Sperm donor requirements
Potential candidates are chosen after a careful screening process. Criteria for a donor include,
- Should be a healthy male of about 18 -35 years.
- Should not have any serious genetic illnesses or sexually transmitted diseases.
- Must be able to produce good quantities of high quality sperm.
- Should have a sound educational background (so that he is capable of making informed decisions).
- Must not be a user of tobacco in any form.
- Ethnicity and race are irrelevant.
The sperm donation process
Sperm banks cater to the collection and storage of donated sperm. One willing to become a donor can visit these facilities and donate samples anonymously.
All donors first undergo a rigorous medical screening process. A detailed medical interview is performed which includes documenting family and genetic histories of serious illnesses. This is done in order to rule out the possibility of transmitting such diseases to the foetus.
Following the interview, an initial set of blood investigations is performed to rule out HIV, hepatitis B & C, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Thalassemia and to identify the blood group and Rhesus antibodies. Genetic testing is performed to rule out cystic fibrosis, Sickle Cell disease and any other genetic disorders associated with the donor’s ethnicity.
Seminal fluid analysis of the sample is conducted to ensure the sample is viable.
The donor undergoes legal counseling so that they are aware of the legal ramifications of the sperm donating process. Concurrently, they also receive psychological counseling. If the sperm donor wishes to be known to the intending parents, they are introduced to each other and counseled and advised together. If not, they can remain anonymous.
The donor samples are thus kept in stasis by freezing and storing in sperm banks. These samples are kept in quarantine for 6 months and rescreened for STDs. Once the sample is cleared of all STDs, its sperm is inseminated via IUI or IVF in order to fertilize the egg.
Donor sperm; for whom is it?
- Couples where the male partner’s sperm yields poor results in IVF.
- When the male partner lacks spermatozoa (azoospermia).
- The male partner is a carrier of genetic disease.
- The male partner is a carrier of a serious STD such as HIV.
- Women without a male partner.
Advantages of using sperm donors
- Donors are screened for medical illnesses and genetic conditions which ensures the paternal sample is devoid of any detectable serious illnesses.
- Creates genetic diversity.
- Women without a male partner can become mothers.
- Safe procedure.
- Cost effective.
Costs related to using sperm donors
Sperm donation rates depend on the centre at which it is performed and the individual donors themselves. Most fertility clinics pay a flat rate to all donors in their donor programs which are recovered from the intending couple or individual. If the donor is introduced by the couple themselves, the pricing may differ depending upon the wishes of the donor. Other than the cost of the donor, IVF/IUI procedure, medical testing and legal counseling are also included in the pricing of the procedure. The pay from sperm donation is used by many individuals as an extra source of income.
Sperm donation in India
Indians have increasingly taken to sperm donation. With high levels of genetic diversity in the country, there are ample opportunities for aspiring parents. Sperm donation prices in India are competitive compared to Singapore and other European countries. The donor sperm is screened rigorously before use and stored under the highest standards.