By Andrea Rodrigo BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 10/28/2015

Fertility treatments using donor sperm are allowed in the USA. Within this country, sperm donors can be anonymous or known, and generally every donor gets an economic compensation for donating his sperm.

It should be clear that, even though there are no specific regulations addressing it, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) establishes a donation limit of 25 live births within an area of 800,000 inhabitants. This is to prevent the risk of consanguinity.

Fertility treatments using donor sperm

When a couple has been trying to conceive for a long time with no luck, it may be due to sperm quality problems. All seminal parameters, that is to say, sperm motility, sperm morphology and sperm concentration, among others, should show normal values.

In case the semen analysis (seminogram) shows low sperm quality or even the absence of viable spermatozoa, resorting to sperm donation can provide the solution to achieve the desired pregnancy. Thus, most common sperm disorders are:

Also in case the man suffers from any genetic disorder, even if the values of his semen parameters are not altered at all, sperm donation turns out to be the best choice again, since the risk of transmission from parent to offspring can be prevented thanks to this fertility treatment.

Likewise, another common reason why sperm donation is needed is the absence of a male partner. This is the reason why, within the USA, single women and lesbian couples wishing to have a baby are allowed to undergo fertility treatments using donor sperm.

Lesbian couples have the chance to use partner donation, that is, one member of the couple can deliver her eggs and then the other woman is the one responsible for carrying the pregnancy to term in case the embryos generated from donor sperm and the partner’s eggs lead to pregnancy.

Requirements for sperm donation

For a prospective sperm donor to qualify as a donor in the USA, it is essential to follow the guidelines developed by the ASRM in this field. Thus, according to the ASRM, the requirements to become a sperm donor are as follows:

  • Assurance of good health status and absence of known genetic abnormalities.
  • Being of legal age, ideally less than 40 years old.
  • Although it is not required, having established fertility (i.e. men who have already had offspring) is desirable.
  • Psychological evaluation and counseling by a qualified mental health professional.
  • Semen analysis (seminogram) after a a sexual restraint period of 2-5 days. Analyzing more than a single semen sample is strongly recommended. The analysis should be carried out one or two hours after ejaculating.
  • Genetic evaluation
  • The patient’s clinical personal and sexual history allows the risk of HIV and any other STDs transmission to be analyzed.
  • Other screening tests for prospective donors

The donor semen sample cannot be used before a quarantine period of 180 days (6 months). After this period, the donor must repeat the aforementioned medical tests to rule out the presence of viral infections. The donor semen sample will be used only in case these tests are negative.

Also noteworthy is the fact that professionals at the fertility clinic or sperm bank where the donation is carried out are not allowed to act as sperm donors.

The ASRM has developed as well a list of cases in which a prospective donor may not be accepted. Such situations are basically related to his sexual history and other risk practices.

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Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
BSc, MSc
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
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