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Sperm Donation

Sperm Donation

Introduction

This refers to a form of assisted conception treatment whereby another person’s sperm (not the male partner of the woman) is used.

Who will benefit?

  • When the male partner has no sperm in the ejaculate (azoospermia), sperm donation was the only option in the olden days.
  • Since the introduction of ICSI and sperm retrieval techniques (PESA/TESA/MESA), this became the first choice of couples as it gave an opportunity for the couples to have their own genetic baby. If no sperm is retrieved by the PESA/TESA/MESA procedures, sperm donation could be considered.
  • Donor sperm can also be used to prevent the transmission of a genetic disorder from the male.
  • Single Women and Same-sex couples use donor sperm for their treatment.

Donor screening

Sperm donation and storage takes place in the sperm bank. Donors should be between 18 and 45 years of age in the UK. A detailed history is taken of the donors. The donors are screened for HIV, HTLV, HepB, HepC, syphilis. CMV, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, cystic fibrosis, chromosomal analysis and blood group are also checked. In non-Caucasian donors, thalassaemia, sickle cell and Taysach’s disease screening are carried out.

In the UK, donor sperm is frozen for six months and infection screening is repeated. If it is clear, the sperm is released for treatment.

Counselling

Couples undergoing treatment using donor sperm are advised to have counselling to discuss the social issues involved and understand the full implications of the treatment. Donor sperm is used in the treatment of single women and lesbian women. Sometimes, women or couples bring a known sperm donor.

The Treatment

The usual treatment with donor sperm is insemination. This can be performed on a natural cycle or a stimulated cycle. If these treatments are not successful, or if the woman is older, IVF treatment using donor sperm is recommended.

Matching

The matching of the donor sperm is based on the ethnicity and the physical characteristics of the man such as skin colour, hair colour, eye colour, height and build. All the non-identifying information about the donor is revealed to the couple undergoing the treatment. In the UK, donor anonymity has been removed with effect from 2005.

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