Sperm donation at a glance
- Donor sperm is an option for a male partner who has a very low sperm count, blocked sperm ducts, or who is a carrier of a genetic defect.
- Donor sperm may also be used for single women or lesbian couples who want to become pregnant.
- There is an increased risk of passing on genetic defects as men age, so sperm donors should be legal adults under age 40.
- Donor sperm is quarantined for six months in order to test the donor for diseases and other risk factors before being released for use.
TRM uses donor sperm as part of treatment, but we are not a sperm bank
Please note: TRM does not accept sperm donations. However, we do help our patients obtain and use donor sperm from third-party sources (such as a sperm bank) when needed for male infertility treatment.
We also collect sperm from our male patients (this is known as “sperm retrieval” or “sperm collection”) for semen analysis and diagnosis, as well as for use in multiple fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination or IVF.
About sperm donation
Donor sperm, or sperm from a known or anonymous male, has been used to assist reproduction for over a century. Donor sperm may be necessary when the male partner carries a genetic defect that he does not want to pass on to the child, or if a single woman desires to become pregnant without a partner.
Male factor infertility issues may also require the use of donor sperm. Blocked sperm ducts or very low sperm counts can be caused by the absence of the vas deferens (which transports the sperm from the testicles to be ejaculated), a previous vasectomy that is irreversible, or testicular failure due to radiation, chemotherapy, or other causes.
Since the development of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in which sperm is injected directly into an egg, some men with infertility problems have had increased success without sperm donation. This technique may not be appropriate for all patients.
Donor sperm can be used for a variety of artificial insemination procedures, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Overall, fresh sperm and frozen sperm have comparable success rates.
Professional counseling is recommended for individuals and/or couples considering sperm donation, to help weigh the considerations and possible implications of the decision.
Sperm donor screening
To limit potential defects associated with older men’s sperm, sperm donors should be healthy, non-smoking males between the ages of 18-40. Traditionally, sperm donors remain anonymous, but it is also possible to use a known donor.
Sperm donors must pass thorough medical and genetic screening tests to determine their health and eligibility. Anonymous sperm donors are required by the FDA to be screened for communicable diseases and associated risk factors. Both the FDA and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommend that sperm be quarantined for at least six months before being released for use.
The donor’s personal and sexual history is examined closely, and potential donors who are at high risk for communicable disease including HIV, hepatitis B, and other sexually transmitted diseases are prohibited from donating. Prospective donors undergo physical examinations to screen them for physical abnormalities and other potential health concerns.
Because it can take up to six months for eidence of an HIV infection to appear in a donor’s blood, the FDA requires that anonymous donors be tested for for sexually transmitted diseases prior to donation and at six-month intervals. Donations are quarantined for six months, until the donor is proved to be free of all tested, blood-
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends that known donors be tested for sexually transmitted diseases before donation and then retested after six months, although the FDA does not require this of known donors.
The sperm donor will also be asked to provide detailed information about his educational background, interests, skills, and hobbies, and possibly a photograph or video. Some donors may permit any children conceived through the donated sperm to contact them once they reach legal age.
Obtaining donor sperm
Most patients obtain sperm from established sperm banks, which maintain large catalogues of potential donors. Recipient patients can select donors based on a wide variety of features, including height, weight, appearance, ethnicity, blood type, interests, religion, education and other characteristics.
After consultation with their physician, couples arrange to have the sperm shipped to the clinic where it is stored until it is used. Most sperm banks guarantee 10 million motile sperm per sample. Studies have shown that a sample with 10 million motile sperm is just as likely to result in pregnancy as are samples with many more.