There is a national shortage of donor sperm in the UK available for use in fertility treatment. But men aged 18 - 41 could help alleviate this crisis and help re-stock donor sperm supplies. And since 1 April 2012, accepted donors receive a fixed sum of £35 for each donation (up to a maximum of £750).
A change to the law in April 2005 means that children born from donor sperm, at the age of 18, can be given certain information regarding their donor and may in the future be able to trace their biological father; similar to adopted children. This means that sperm donors can no longer be anonymous and must be willing to let certain identifiable details be released to any offspring born, if requested, after 18 years (or 16 years if the offspring wishes to marry).
There are two types of sperm donors:
- altruistic sperm donors - men who provide sperm samples on a regular basis to a fertility clinic to be used in the treatment of women who are unknown to the donor. Altruistic donors may provide sperm for the treatment resulting in livebirths for up to 10 families - this may be 10 babies plus any siblings the women may wish to have. However, altruistic donors are able to limit (within reason) the number of livebirths resulting from the use of their sperm
- ‘known’ sperm donors - men who provide sperm to be used only by one woman or couple whom he knows, for treatment at a licensed fertility clinic
Both altruistic and known sperm donors are not in any way financially or legally responsible for children born from their donations. However if they deliberately fail to disclose information concerning their risk of passing on a genetic condition, they may be liable in the future for damages.
Who may benefit from donor sperm treatment?
Donor sperm is needed by many different types of people for fertility treatment at MFS, including:
- couples where the man has no sperm (azoospermia)
- couples where the man’s sperm is of very poor quality or insufficient quantity
- couples where the man is at risk of passing on a serious hereditary condition
- single women
- women in a same sex relationship
What is involved in becoming a sperm donor?
Every potential sperm donor has a consultation with a doctor and receives counselling about the process and possible outcomes. A donor’s blood is screened to ensure it does not carry diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
Not all sperm is suitable for fertility treatment and some doesn’t survive the freeze-thaw process. Currently only one in every 10 men can supply sperm suitable for use in donor sperm fertility treatment - but this could be you!
After a potential donor has an initial consultation with an MFS doctor and the results of the infection screening blood test are in order, he is asked to provide a semen sample which is tested for the ’super-sperm’ currently required for donor sperm fertility treatment. If the sample is suitable and survives the freeze-thaw process, another blood-test is required to check the number and shape of chromosomes (called a karyotype) and ensure he does not carry the cystic fibrosis gene.
Donors must be committed! They must be able to attend MFS for weekly donations for a minimum period of six months, followed by a final appointment up to one year later. Since 1 April 2012, accepted donors receive a fixed sum of £35 for each donation - up to a maximum of £750.
To check eligibility to be a sperm donor, complete the potential sperm donor checklist
If you would like to become a sperm donor, complete this self-assessment form to see if you meet the current rigorous criteria for donors. Simply answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions. Your response will be calculated and you will receive a pop-up message either declining your offer to be a sperm donor or inviting you to contact MFS on 01922 455911, to get more information or to make an appointment for initial tests and counselling. For more information, contact the MFS laboratory staff.
Identity of sperm donors
Both the sperm donor and donor sperm recipient remain anonymous to each other, although the recipient may receive some non-identifying information about the donor, such as a description of his physical characteristics and personal interests. The recipient is not permitted to know the donor’s unique identifying code.
Go to the MFS Patient Treatment Information page and download the following infosheet:
- Donating Sperm