Donating sperm is one of those controversial topics that has a lot going for it, but also a lot of contention surrounding it. There are many reasons to be a sperm donor, but also many reasons not too, and at the same time there are many aspects that we aren’t completely familiar with. Here we will look at what it means to donate sperm and whether or not you should get involved.
What Is an Anonymous Sperm Donor?
Of course a sperm donor is someone who donates sperm. This means that they provide sperm to be used by couples or individuals who are unable to have children on their own due to ‘faults’ at the man’s end. A single woman for instance can use a sperm donor, as could a lesbian couple, or a couple where the man is infertile but the woman is able to carry a baby. By becoming a sperm donor you are first and foremost giving the gift of having children to those who cannot which is an incredibly precious thing.
At the same time though the sperm donor will need to pass certain criteria and will need to be checked for genetic diseases, STIs and other problems. The anonymous sperm donor will likely never meet the couple or individual to whom they donate the sperm, though some of their details and statistics (height, weight, profession, age, hair color etc) will be made available to help the individuals choose the donor they want to use.
Note: Laws in the UK mean that your identifying information will be made available to the child conceived of your sperm once they reach the age of 18. This means that you could well be tracked down by a child 18 years old who wants to trace their family routes and that needs to be considered very seriously. This is not the case in most states of America, however it is something that you should research to be sure.
What to Expect When Giving Sperm
When giving sperm you need to be aware that all sperm banks operate slightly differently and have slightly different requirements. However the typical procedure will nevertheless remain roughly the same, and you will generally be required to meet the same specifications during evaluation.
The first thing you should do is to contact the sperm bank directly and ask if they are accepting new donors. They might ask you some questions on the phone regarding your personal and family history in order to ascertain whether you are likely to be eligible. These questions will look for several things including:
- Age – donors must be between 18 and 44 (younger is better)
- Family history – donors must not be adopted and must have no family history of genetic disease
- Health – they must have no significant illnesses or health problems
- Ability and willingness to carry out the process of donating sperm and to make the necessary commitments
You will then be asked to come into the bank for a meeting, at which time you will have to fill out a very thorough questionnaire regarding your medical history and family history. In some other cases you might instead submit an application by mail first. The criteria here are very strict and as a result only a small percentage of the applicants are ever permitted to go ahead. Following the application you will also be required to undergo a full medical exam which may include blood tests etc.
Next you will probably be asked to give a first test donation. This means giving a sperm sample so that it can be tested for various aspects – the amount of sperm in the semen, the quality of the sperm, and how well the sperm responds to being frozen (the sample will be frozen until it is used).
If all of this is successful then you will be permitted to donate more sperm and this will mean making regular trips – around 4 to 8 times a month for around 6 months. Large amounts of sperm need to be collected bearing in mind that insemination is not always successful and that sperm counts vary etc. The duration is necessary as certain conditions will take six months to show up. This will also include multiple blood tests (because of course it’s important to make sure that you do not develop new conditions during this time) and urine samples. What’s also important to bear in mind is that you be required to go without ejaculating for five days prior to each donation. This can mean that you are highly reducing your sex life during the six month period and this is something that also puts a lot of people off.
The actual act of donating sperm means going into a private room and ejaculating into a small cup. Often there will be pornographic material in these private rooms in order to help you to create your sample. Normally you will be paid per sample, but usually when you account for travel costs and time given it does not work out to be a highly beneficial and there are much better ways to earn the money.
Should You Donate Sperm?
So the question is, should you donate sperm bearing all this information in mind? The answer is of course that it depends on how you feel about short-term celibacy, about medical exams and about regular trips to the bank. If you are donating sperm for genuinely altruistic reasons and you want to give someone an incredible gift, then this is something to consider. However if you are looking for a way to earn money, or you think it is going to be a quick and easy process then it’s important that you don’t believe the myths and that you recognize the large commitment you are taking on and the multiple factors surrounding sperm donation. And if you’re in the UK then you need to think especially hard about the consequences of one day meeting an 18 year old son or daughter.