Conceiving a baby from the egg and sperm of both biological parents, either naturally or through assisted conception, is not always possible. For this reason, couples sometimes have no choice but to use donor gametes in order to achieve pregnancy.
When the sperm quality of a man’s semen sample is not good enough as to fertilize the egg and create an embryo able to implant, sperm donation is the treatment of choice.
Single mothers or lesbian couples wishing to have a baby have to necessarily resort to donor sperm due to the absence of a male partner.
Finally, when the man is detected some sort of genetic abnormality likely to be transmitted, using donor sperm can become the solution to avoid passing a genetic disorder to offspring, even if no infertility issues are diagnosed.
Requirements for sperm donation
In accordance with information obtained regarding Cypriot Law 69(I)/2015 on the application of Medically Assisted Human Reproduction, sperm donors must:
- Act in an altruistic manner
- Remain anonymous
The law also forbids selling gametes or embryos created from donors. It suggests, however, that donors should be given an economic compensation for the expenses derived from the donation process, such as travel or accommodation expenses, loss of earnings due to time off work, etc.
As for anonymity, it should be noted that the recipient or recipients are allowed to choose who they want to be their donor as long as his identity remains unrevealed. The law puts special emphasis on the fact that donor identity must be kept secret. The donor is neither allowed to get identifiable information about the intended parents or the donor-conceived child.
Another highlight on sperm donation is related to his age: in Cyprus, prospective sperm donors are not eligible if they are 45 years of age or older.
Fertility treatments using donor sperm
- In vitro fertilization (IVF): After collecting the semen sample and retrieving the eggs, they are put in contact so that fertilization takes place. Later, the healthiest embryos created from this fusion will be transferred to the maternal uterus. The maximum amount of embryos to be transferred is 2 if the woman is under 39 years of age, and 3 if she is in the 39-50 age range.
- Artificial insemination (AI): After collecting the semen sample, it is inserted with a cannula through the woman’s canal of the cervix. Then, it is placed inside the uterus, waiting for the sperms to travel across the Fallopian tubes and finally fertilize the egg.
As one can see, what differentiates both techniques is the location where fertilization per se takes place, which can occur either in the laboratory or inside the female reproductive system. Another point that makes them different is that, in the case of AI, only the eggs of the prospective mother can be used. Conversely, IVF can be done using donor or own eggs.