If you’re considering sperm donation, you probably have loads of questions – how it works, where you get the sperm from, can your child contact the donor and more.
Here we answer the most common questions to help you understand what’s involved...
At a glance
- Sperm donors are not paid for making a donation
- A single registered donor can be used to conceive a maximum of 10 babies
- If you use a registered donor, your baby will legally be your child - and your partner’s if you have one
Who uses sperm donation?
Sperm donation offers you a way to have a baby if your partner isn’t producing enough healthy sperm for you to get pregnant, or he wants to avoid passing on an inherited disease. It’s also a great option if you’re having a baby alone, or with a female partner.
How does sperm donation work?
Donor sperm is used to fertilise an egg inside your body. This is known as donor insemination (DI). “The sperm are passed through a fine plastic tube that enters the cervix and extends into the womb,” says Richard Smith, Consultant Obstetrican. “As you’d expect, treatment takes place around the time you ovulate to boost the chance of you conceiving. And your doctors may suggest you take a fertility drug to increase the number of eggs you produce.”
Alternatively, donor sperm can fertilise eggs in a laboratory, using IVF. “This means your eggs would be removed using a fine needle, then fertilised by the sperm in a lab,” says Smith. “Then the egg (now called an embryo) is then placed back into your womb to hopefully grow and develop.”
Where does the sperm come from?
Some couples choose to get donated sperm from someone they know. But in most cases, sperm is obtained and treatment is carried out at a registered or licensed sperm bank.
“If you use sperm from a registered donor, you have the peace of mind of knowing that they have been screened for infections and inherited diseases,” says Smith. “They will also have been carefully assessed for their suitability and their physical resemblance to you and your partner.”
Sperms donors are not paid for making a donation – they’re just trying to help couples conceive – and sperm from a single registered donor can be used to conceive a maximum of 10 babies.
What is the legal situation?
If you use a registered donor, your baby will legally be your child - and your partner’s if you have one. But if you make a private arrangement with a donor, the donor will be considered one of the baby’s legal parents.
In the past, sperm donors remained anonymous from the parents and the child. However, in 2005, the law regarding donor anonymity changed. Anyone born from donated sperm after April 1 2005 can ask for information about the identity of the donor, once they have reached 18 years of age.
Is sperm donation right for me?
Using a sperm donor certainly needs careful consideration. There are lots of issues to think through. How will you feel if your child chooses to search out their biological father when they are 18? What will you tell your child about their conception? If you have a male partner, how will you both feel knowing that your baby is not genetically his?
You may well find the enormous benefits far outweigh concerns like these, but if you are considering using donor sperm, you will be given the opportunity to talk all these issues through with a counsellor.