Why are semen donors required?
Artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) using spermatozoa from an anonymous donor (DI) is an option for many couples or women who would like to have a family.
The demand for donor insemination is usually greater than the availability of suitable donors, therefore centres such as ours are extremely grateful for offers from men wishing to become semen donors. In larger centres, donated sperm is also sometimes used for research into infertility problems or for teaching new staff.
Are donors paid?
All donors are paid per donation accepted. The payment is compensation for time and travel to and from our clinic. For donors from the Nottingham area, it is usually a standard £35 fee.
No payment is made until the prospective donor has completed all necessary screening and are accepted onto the donor program.
How is the donated sperm used ?
Donor sperm is used to help patients conceive in cases where:
- The male partner has no sperm or carries a hereditary condition which he does not wish to pass on
- There is no male partner (single sex couples or single women)
Donor sperm are processed to harvest only those sperm which swim the fastest and have the best morphology (shape/size) and then frozen. When required the sperm are thawed, washed and inseminated into the woman at a time when she is most fertile i.e. to coincide with ovulation (release of the egg).
What would determine an individual's suitability to become a donor?
Donors should be between the ages of 18 to 40 years. They should have no serious medical disability and a family background free from any known inherited diseases or disorders. Men wishing to donate sperm must have knowledge of both their birth parent’s and extended family medical histories, and for this reason we are unable to recruit donors who have been adopted (unless they have access to the required medical information).
An experienced member of our staff will interview all prospective semen donors. Medical and family history as well as the individual’s views on the implications of donor insemination is discussed.
We also ask permission to contact a prospective donor’s GP to ask whether there is anything in the social or medical history which may suggest he is not be suitable to donate.
If you satisfy the criteria below, then you may be accepted onto our donor program:
- Can commit to at least 6-12 months of regular (once per week) donation
- Willing to attend for a number of screening visits prior to acceptance
- Willing to have your identity released to a national register on the understanding that some children born as a result of your donations may gain access to it
- Must be fit & healthy
- Not an intravenous drug user
- Have not donated at another fertility unit
- Have not been diagnosed with either HIV or Hepatitis
- Your immediate family are fit & healthyand there are no birth defects or known genetic disease within the family
What tests are required before becoming a semen donor?
Prospective donors are first asked to provide a semen sample for testing. All semen samples must be produced on site in a room specially allocated for semen collection. Suitability is determined by both the sperm count (expressed in millions per mL) and by their ability to swim (motility).
All samples are frozen in nitrogen at around -190°C and checked once more when they are thawed. Many do not survive this freeze/thawing process and this is the main reason for rejecting prospective donors. Potential donors must be aware that after examination, the majority (almost 90%) of the semen specimens we analyse will fail to reach the very strict criteria required (although in most cases this does not mean that these men have reduced fertility).
In addition, blood samples are required to confirm normal genetic makeup and screen for cystic fibrosis. Screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) is an understandable necessity. This will be carried out by one of our medical team alongside a brief physical examination and involves taking a urine test for Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia and blood tests for Syphilis, Hepatitis and HIV (AIDS). This is repeated when donations are complete. In addition a repeat blood test is required again six months later.
What Information is kept on each donor?
The clinic will document the following from each donor: Name, Address, Marital status, existing children, Town or District of Birth, Country of Birth, Identification e.g. (NHS number, NI No., driving license or Passport/ID card no.), Height, Weight (Kg), Build, Eye/Hair/Skin Colour, Ethnic Group (and that of the donors parents. Social history including occupation, religion, Hobbies/Interests, Sexual orientation, recent travel history. Medical History including: illnesses, operations and medication.
Who should not become a semen donor?
Any man who has a recognised family history of a particular illness e.g. heart disease, serious mental illness should not donate semen. This should not include those with a ‘one-off’ family member who may have suffered but a documented ‘family’ chain of illness.
Additionally, anyone with a known genetic disorder e.g. cystic fibrosis should not donate. Certain ‘high risk’ groups are also discouraged from donation. These include: Highly Promiscuous men (heterosexual or homosexual) or intravenous drug users.
What does donation involve?
Once screening is complete and the ‘all clear’ given, arrangements can be made for donation to commence. Between 20-35 donations will usually be made, and we will pay the donor for each sample stored.
To ensure confidentiality is maintained, each donor is allocated a non-identifying code, his identity being known only to staff of the Andrology Centre. However, each donor is registered on a central government database with the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA). Women receiving donor sperm and their partners do not have access to that register.
Offspring born as a result of donor insemination may or may not be aware of the fact and this depends largely on the openness of their parents. The law now permits offspring born as a result of fertility treatment using donor sperm to approach the register for information once they reach the age of 18, which would identify their biological father (the donor). This doesn’t mean that donors will have any financial commitment or any other obligation to the child as long as treatment takes place within a HFEA Licensed unit.
How do I become a sperm donor?
1. ) Print and complete the initial screening questionaire and either:
Email it back to us on firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to Andrology Laboratory East Block, B Floor, QMC, Derby Road, Nottingham, NG7 2UH
2.) Phone the Andrology Laboratory on 0115 924 9924 Ext: 62831/62729 and explain that you are interested in becoming a sperm donor.
You will to complete the above questionnaire over the phone (this usually takes about 2-3 minutes) and make an initial appointment.