It is not always possible that children and parents share the same genetic code. There are times when a man's semen sample is insufficient to conceive, and therefore there is no other choice but to use donor sperm.
The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.
Poor sperm quality or the presence of genetic abnormalities likely to be inherited by offspring are the main reasons why a couple may need to turn to sperm donation.
This is the fertility treatment of choice for single women who decide to embrace single motherhood.
Likewise, lesbian couples wishing to have a child need a semen sample from a donor to achieve parenthood. Russian law, however, forbids that the LGBT community has access to assisted reproductive technology (ART).
To sum up, sperm donation is indicated for the following groups:
- Straight couples with poor-quality sperm
- Straight couples whose male partner has some genetic abnormality
- Single women
Requirements to become a donor
For a candidate to become a sperm donor to be finally accepted into the donor program, he should have a series of qualities related to his health status, and pass a medical and psychological screening that proves he is indeed able to become a donor without implying a prejudice for him.
The personal interview with the clinic's staff, as well as the psychological screening, are of material importance. Such conversation are done with the sole purpose of analyzing the candidate's lifestyle, his personal medical and family history, his emotional state, the reasons why he is willing to donate, etc.
Also, serology testing and semen analyses are necessary for the purposes listed hereon:
- Blood typing
- Karyotype test and genetic screening
- Verifying the absence of infectious diseases such as the HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, etc.
- Bacterial culture of semen
- Semen analysis (SE)
If the candidate presents the adequate sperm parameters after taking all these tests, and he proves to be mentally capable of undergoing sperm donation, he will be accepted into the donor program. The next step will consist in waiting to be matched with a person or couple in need of his semen in order to start a fertility treatment.
Types of sperm donation
Sperm donation can be classified into various types according to the type chosen as a reference. This is the reason why we can distinguish between altruistic sperm donation or commercial sperm donation if we choose the economic factor as the reference value; on the other hand, one can speak of anonymous or non-anonymous sperm donation depending on whether the donor identity is disclosed or not.
If the donor is not paid for donating his sperm, then it would be an altruistic sperm donation. Conversely, if he is given an economic compensation after depositing a semen sample, we will be talking about commercial sperm donation.
As for the anonymity or confidentiality as regards sperm donor identity, we can distinguish two types:
- Anonymous donors: Neither the woman who is about to undergo sperm donation nor her partner, if any, will ever meet the donor. Donors are not allowed to meet the recipients either.
- Non-anonymous donors: In this case, the sperm donor is a trusted person of the receiving woman or couple, preferably a relative or a close friend. They won't be allowed to know who is their donor or start a close relationship with him.
Should you have a preference for an anonymous sperm donor, his identity and any other identifiable information will remain confidential and only known by the staff of the fertility clinic. In spite of that, patients will be revealed some general information about the donor as well as certain physical characteristics, blood type, educational level...
Although Russian laws on assisted reproduction do allow non-anonymous sperm donations, this type of donation is not accepted by every fertility clinic. Some centers only accept anonymous sperm donors.
Anonymous sperm donation
Anonymous sperm donation is usually the option of choice in Russia. In fact, this is the only option available in a number of Russian fertility clinics offering sperm donor programs, either for undergoing an IVF or IUI cycle.
Information about the potential donor (address and phone number) as well as his full name cannot be revealed to the intended parents. At the same time, the donor will not be given this kind of data about the set of prospective parents. However, patients can ask for certain data, such as physical characteristics, nationality, educational level, etc.
Non-anonymous sperm donation
Within Russia, current regulations establish that the identity and confidential information about the donor should be kept private by the clinic. Thus, it will be the clinic staff's responsibility to allocate each donor to a set of intended parents.
However, there exists an exception to this rule by which intended parents may have the chance to meet their donor. This option is known as non-anonymous sperm donation and refers to those cases in which it is the intended parents themselves provides the sperm donor.
This type of donation is allowed only when the donor is a family member or close friend to the individual or couple wishing to achieve motherhood/parenthood.
Even though this option is legally permitted, non-anonymous sperm donation is rather uncommon if compared to the other type, that is, anonymous sperm donation.
Assisted reproduction techniques
When a woman or couple needs to use donor sperm to achieve pregnancy, it is possible to choose between the following techniques: artificial insemination (AI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Depending on the particularities of each case, and especially on the fertility problem the patient has been diagnosed with, one type or another will be the most advisable.
For an artificial insemination to be properly carried out, it is necessary that the patient meets the following requirements:
- Tubal patency: At least one Fallopian tube must be functional in order to allow the passage of sperms toward the egg.
- Normal menstrual cycles: The egg itself must be capable of coming out of the ovary, and then reach the Fallopian tubes, where a sperm will be waiting for its arrival.
If one does not meet these criteria or it is a case of advanced maternal age, artificial insemination may not be the most adequate treatment to become pregnant. In such case, in vitro fertilization will be the treatment of choice.
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