Becoming a Sperm Donor

Deciding to donate your sperm is a big step, and one that can have repercussions in the future as changes in the relevant legislation means that a child conceived from your donated sperm is entitled to find out about your identity once they’ve become 18. That being said,, sperm donations are vital to the success of many fertility treatments, and countless couples have benefitted from such donations over the years.

Why become a sperm donor? Who can benefit from the use of donor sperm?

Donating sperm for research or for fertility treatment comes down to one important end, and that is helping people and providing couples with a chance to start a family where they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Donor sperm is also the means by which same sex couples and single mums can have children, and without this invaluable service, these people wouldn’t be able to have families of their own.

Men are sometimes afflicted with infertility that can’t be treated, for example they may have a condition which means they don’t produce sperm, or those sperm they do produce are unable to fertilise an egg. Other men suffer from hereditary diseases that they don’t want to pass on to a child, or may have had a surgery that prevents them from being able to conceive through intercourse like a vasectomy. Some medical treatments, most notably those used for cancer, can severely damage sperm cells leaving some men infertile for life. These are only some of the kinds of people who rely on sperm donations to be able to have children with their partners, and this is one of the strongest motivations to become a sperm donor.

What is involved in becoming a sperm donor?

If you want to become a sperm donor, the first step is to find a licensed clinic which is recruiting donors like yourself. There are many fraudulent services out there, so it is important to make sure that the clinic in question is licensed by the appropriate government body, either the HFEA or National Gamete Donation Trust. You can in fact find clinics like these through these organisation’s respective websites, as well as their contact details.

Depending on which clinic you’ve contacted, you might be called over to have a face to face discussion about why you want to donate and what’s involved, or you might just have an informal chat over the phone. The clinic will want to determine how suitable you are as a sperm donor, and they are likely to ask questions about your general health and that of your family.

Once this early stage has been passed and you have been deemed suitable as a sperm donor, the next stage is to attend the clinic to produce a semen sample that will be used for screening. The clinic is likely to ask you to refrain from sexual activity for a few days before you are due to deliver a sample, usually about 3-5 days. You will also be asked to provide a blood sample which will also be used to screen for infections and inherited illnesses. Many clinics now will also have a doctor examine you and require a urine sample, also for further testing. The reason why this stage is so strict is because it is designed to ensure the safety of both the child and the recipient as there are many communicable diseases that can be transferred by sperm.

Finally you will be given a consent form to sign which allows the clinic to contact your GP to make further enquiries into your medical history. The clinic will assign an experienced member of staff to make sure that you understand all the legal repercussions of sperm donation. Counselling is often available at this stage to make sure that you understand and accept everything that happens to your sperm and where exactly you stand once a child has been conceived using your donation.

When it finally comes to making your donation, you will be asked how long you want to keep samples frozen for, most clinics tend to keep samples frozen for about 10 years but if you want this time can be shortened. Your appearance will be documented so that recipients can be matched based on your physical appearance amongst other characteristics.

You will need to provide regular sperm donations for up to four months, and how long you need to provide these samples for depends on the quality of your sperm and the clinics’ own particular policies. You would need to attend the clinic at least once or twice a week to produce samples, and these are frozen for future use. Appointments tend to be quite flexible, and whilst samples are being given the centre is likely to ask that you take measures to avoid catching any STDs.

Considerations when becoming a sperm donor

The biggest questions many people have when considering donation revolve around the role they play in and around a child’s life after a successful conception and live birth. UK law is very clear about here a donor stands in relation to the child and their parents, but it is very important that you always go through a licensed clinic for these to apply without complication.

Under UK law a sperm donor is not considered the biological parent of any child conceived through the use of his sample. The couple receiving the treatment are considered the child’s parents in full. The child is also entitled to information about you as a donor once they’ve reached the age of 18, this law in particular has only been implemented relatively recently so you may not have been aware of it (since April 2005).

As a donor you are legally entitled to withdraw consent for the use of your sperm up to the stage where an embryo is implanted in IVF or an egg is fertilised through artificial insemination. If you agree to participate in insemination at home or from any company that isn’t licensed by the HFEA then you, the donor, is legally the father of any child born.

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