How is sperm donation explained step by step?

By (embryologist), (embryologin), (gynecologist) and (psychologist).
Last Update: 01/26/2022

Many men consider donating sperm in their lifetime. However, only a few succeed. This is due to the long and strict selection process required to achieve it.

Sperm candidates undergo medical analysis, psychological studies and, of course, fertility tests, which determine whether they are suitable to enter a donation program that will last at least half a year.

It is estimated that the duration of the whole process of sperm donation is about 6 months on average, although depending on the assisted reproduction clinic it may vary. During this process, the donor will be required every week, as many times as the center needs, to deliver his sperm to be preserved by freezing.

Sperm donor selection

Men who are interested in becoming sperm donors should visit a fertility center to learn more about the process. If they meet the requirements established by the Spanish Assisted Reproduction Law, they will be able to undergo a series of clinical tests that will determine if they are suitable to be sperm donors.

Next, we will explain the steps that a sperm donor candidate must face from the moment he/she goes to a fertility clinic until he/she is accepted in the process as a sperm donor.

Requirements to donate sperm

To be a sperm donor in Spain the necessary requirements are the following:

  • Be between 18 and 35 years of age
  • Be in good physical and mental health
  • Full capacity to act
  • Not having 6 or more children

If the candidate meets the requirements, he should make an appointment with the clinic or sperm bank, where the center's qualified staff will determine his physical and mental health status.

Interview with the donation coordinator

The coordinator responsible for sperm donations will explain to the candidate what the procedure consists of: the screening phases, the number of visits to the center, the compensation for the donation, and the legal implications of the donation.

The young person should understand that both the screening process and the donation process are long and tedious, and requires numerous appointments in a short period of time, which can disrupt his or her daily routine.

Once the candidate understands and accepts the advantages and disadvantages of sperm donation, he can proceed to the next step in the process of becoming a sperm donor.

Spermiogram and freezing test

The laboratory staff will require the candidate to provide a sample for fertility control and analysis.

For this purpose, the prospective sperm donor will be taken to a private room and given an analysis bottle. The young man must masturbate and ejaculate inside the sterile canister, for this it is necessary that he has complied with the abstinence period established between 2 and 7 days. Subsequently, the sample will be submitted to the andrology laboratory for analysis.

Once inside the laboratory, the specialists will analyze the typical parameters of sperm concentration, volume, motility, morphology and vitality. This is one of the most critical steps in the whole selection system, as it requires a seminal quality well above average.

Sperm donors are required to have concentration and motility values 5 times higher than the value considered normal by the WHO (World Health Organization)

In addition to checking the parameters, a freeze-thaw test will also be performed, in order to evaluate the recovery of the spermatozoa after being subjected to -196Cº in liquid nitrogen.

If the tests carried out by the laboratory staff are satisfactory, the candidate will be interviewed by the center's psychologist.

Interview with the psychologist

During this visit, the sperm donor candidate is interviewed by the center's psychologist to assess his or her mental health. In this way, it can be determined whether he is capable of assuming the implications of sperm donation.

In addition, the interview delves deeper and inquires about your medical history and that of your family, looking for mental or genetic illnesses that may be susceptible to inheritance.

Signing of contract and reports

At this point, the legal process begins. The future donor must sign the consent and reports, thus consenting that the center makes use of their samples for assisted reproduction treatments of patients who require a sample of donated sperm. Likewise, he also renounces to his specimen, and to any link between the possible children that may be born as a result of his donation.

Medical tests and analysis

After the psychologist's screening, prospective sperm donors must meet with the physician to undergo a battery of clinical tests to rule out any genetic pathology of infectious disease. The objective of this study is to ensure the safety of future recipients and their offspring:

  • Blood grouping study: necessary to ensure blood compatibility between mother and child.
  • Studies of infectious diseases: hepatitis B, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), herpes virus, rubella, chlamydia trachomatis, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, and neisseria gonorrhoeae. All of these diseases are highly contagious through blood, thus protecting not only the expectant mother and her baby but also all clinic staff who will be in contact with the donor's fluids.
  • Genetic studies: the battery of genetic tests involves karyotyping and the study of the following diseases: Alpha-thalassemia, Beta-thalassemia, Cystic fibrosis, Spinal muscular atrophy and Hemoglobinopathies (4:Hb,C,D,E,O). However, infertility centers, the use of recessive disease panels is becoming more and more widespread; both the donor and the patient undergo a genetic study of more than 100 recessive diseases, to analyze the probability of inheriting these genetic diseases with the combination of their genes.

Sperm donation period

Once all the selection processes have been passed, the young person will be contacted to start his or her donation program. The clinic will require the donor to come weekly to its facilities to produce the sample and will provide financial compensation for the inconvenience and expenses caused by its activity.

During the period of sperm donations, a man can provide between 15 and 20 samples. The most important thing is that the donor complies with the days of sexual abstinence required to make a good donation. If the opposite were to occur, the parameters of the samples would be reduced, and the compromised sample would be discarded from the donation process.

The donation period ends after 6 months when the donor must repeat the infectious disease tests. In this way, future recipients are guaranteed that the samples they will use in their treatments are free of infectious diseases and viral load.

Each sample provided by the donor must be studied by means of a spermiogram and a freezing test. If the sample passes the established quality standards, it can be frozen in small aliquots and stored in the semen bank until use.

Once a cycle of donations has finished, the process can be repeated, as long as the young person and the clinic are interested in continuing with the donations and the maximum number of children per donor has not been reached.

Assisted procreation, as any other medical treatment, requires that you rely on the professionalism of the doctors and staff of the clinic you choose. Obviously, each clinic is different. Get now your Fertility Report, which will select several clinics for you out of the pool of clinics that meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, it will offer you a comparison between the fees and conditions each clinic offers in order for you to make a well informed choice.

FAQs from users

If I want to be a sperm donor, how many sperm samples do I have to provide?

By Sergio Rogel Cayetano M.D. (gynecologist).

Sperm donation is a disinterested, anonymous and voluntary act. That is why sperm banks do not usually require a minimum number of donated samples. Thus, a sperm donor may have donated a single sample, or several. What is necessary is the donor's availability to perform a blood collection for
blood collection about three months after the donation.

This is because the main infectious diseases (HIV, Hepatitis) have a period in which they cannot be detected in the common analysis of approximately 3 months (sales period) so the law requires a strict selection of the donor, including the performance of tests for infectious diseases, that all semen samples are frozen (without exception) and then checked three months later by a new blood collection for the absence of these pathologies. According to the law, only in this way can the donated semen be used, so all banks will require this availability from the donor.

How much do they pay to donate sperm?

By Andrea Rodrigo B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

The economic compensation given to donors for semen donation is between 100$ and $150 for each sample deposited. It is usual for each donor to deposit between 15 and 20 samples, although it will depend on each case.

Do I need to change my lifestyle during the donation period?

By Laura Parra Villar B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologin).

The studies and interviews prior to sperm donation try to ensure that the selected candidates have a healthy lifestyle.

However, it is required that during the donation period the young man keeps the days of sexual abstinence, and that he has a healthy and balanced life so that the semen samples are not affected.

Are there any cases in which the identity of the donor can be revealed?

By Laura Parra Villar B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologin).

The Law only contemplates two scenarios where the identity of the donor can be disclosed: the first, in case the child is seriously ill or in danger of death, and disclosing the identity of the sperm donor is the only way to save him/her; the second scenario, the identity of the donor will be disclosed when appropriate under the Criminal Procedural Laws, provided that such information is indispensable to achieve the proposed legal purpose.

Can I donate sperm to my friend?

By Laura Parra Villar B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologin).

In Spain, no. Law 14/2006 stipulates that all donations must be anonymous, therefore gamete donation between family members or acquaintances is not allowed.

This is not the case in other countries, such as England, where donation between acquaintances is totally permitted.

The requirements to become a sperm donor and the legal implications are both interesting and complicated. Therefore, if you are thinking of becoming a sperm donor and you still don't know what requirements you must meet, we tell you all about it in the article Sperm donation: requirements to donate sperm in Spain.

As we have seen throughout this article, there are several studies that sperm donor candidates must pass. All of this is a screening process that ensures the health of the recipient and the offspring. However, how are the studies carried out to assign a sperm donor to each patient, and what guarantees does this selection provide to the future mother? All these analyses and studies are described in the article Selection of the sperm donor.

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FAQs from users: 'If I want to be a sperm donor, how many sperm samples do I have to provide?', 'How much do they pay to donate sperm?', 'Do I need to change my lifestyle during the donation period?', 'Are there any cases in which the identity of the donor can be revealed?' and 'Can I donate sperm to my friend?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
Andrea Rodrigo
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information about Andrea Rodrigo
 Laura Parra Villar
Laura Parra Villar
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Biology from the University of Valencia (UV) and embryologist with a Master's degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia in collaboration with the Valencian Institute of Infertility (IVI). More information about Laura Parra Villar
Licence number: 3325-CV
 Sergio Rogel Cayetano
Sergio Rogel Cayetano
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche. Specialist in Obstetrics & Gynecology via M. I. R. at Hospital General de Alicante. He become an expert in Reproductive Medicine by working at different clinics of Alicante and Murcia, in Spain, until he joined the medical team of IVF Spain back in 2011. More information about Sergio Rogel Cayetano
License: 03-0309100
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874

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