Infertility is on the rise — and despite a great many advances in medical technology, there is still a great demand for donor sperm. Single mothers by choice and lesbian couples are two groups that may also want to use donor sperm to become parents. Are you a man who is considering donating sperm to a sperm bank, or becoming a know sperm donor to a friend or relative? Here’s what you need to know.
Do you qualify?
Lots of men would not mind exchanging their gametes for some pocket money, but you need to qualify. The requirements vary per sperm bank — some need you to be over a certain length, others need you to have a degree, and many are looking for sperm donors or a particular ethnicity. All need you to be healthy and to have healthy sperm, and age requirements are usually attached to that as well. You may need to be between 18 and 25 years old in order to become a sperm donor for a sperm bank.
If you have been asked to act as a known donor, the individual or couple asking you has already pre-qualified you. You will still need to get your sperm quality tested, and your general health. Nobody wants a sperm donor with HIV, obviously. If the woman trying to get pregnant with your sperm is planning to perform self-insemination, you will need to be available to drop sperm samples off during her fertile window. Sperm banks, too, may require that you live close to the bank so they can get samples whenever they need to.
Men donating to a sperm bank should know any sperm sample that does not meet their requirements will not be paid. Other specific requirements should always be discussed with the bank itself.
Finally, you’ll obviously need to go through your medical history, and you are disqualified if you suffer from any type of genetic condition. A psychological evaluation is also an integral part of selecting desirable sperm donors. Unfortunately for people hoping to use a sperm donor to conceive children, they don’t always work and people with serious mental problems do get through the screening process. (See Dutch neo-nazi sperm donor wanted “white Aryan children” for information about one such shocking case!)
Many young men see sperm donation as easy money. Are you sure you can handle becoming a biological father to many children, however? You would not be the first man to deeply regret donating sperm after many years, possibly right when you become a father to children you are intending to parent. Because you may not be able to understand the possible consequences of donating sperm, I’d suggest any sperm donor should have a chat with a psychologist before becoming a sperm donor.
Also keep in mind that your (future) wife or partner, and your own parents could be deeply affected by your sperm donation if they know about it. Google men who regret sperm donation and similar terms to find individual stories that tell you more about this really complicated topic.
Are you willing to be identified?
In many countries, anonymous sperm donation has now officially been banned. These countries include Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and Australia. If your jurisdiction still allows anonymous sperm donation, there are a few things you should consider. The law could retroactively be overturned, after which you could be identified as the biological father (of maybe dozens of children).
Your biological children could find you even if you think your privacy is protected, and the many people who hold that these individuals have a strong right to know the identity of their biological father sure have a point. There are donor sibling registries online where parents of donor offspring can connect, for instance. Any man considering sperm donation in this day and age should be willing to be known, or decide sperm donation is not for him after all.
The other possibility is, of course, that you will want to meet the children you helped create one day — only to be heartbroken that you cannot find them. Once again, search google to find some of the stories of men who feel this way.
Do you have any personal experience with sperm donation, from the point of view of the donor or his relative, as the parent of a donor-conceived child, or as a donor-conceived person? We’d love to hear your opinions about sperm donation. Please leave a comment!