SPERM DONATION AT A GLANCE
- Sperm donation involves a fertile man giving or selling his sperm so it can be used by an infertile individual or couple.
- Donated sperm is used for artificial insemination, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), and for in vitro fertilization (IVF), which may involve intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
- Sperm donation is used when the male partner has low sperm counts, carries a genetic defect he does not want to pass onto his child, or when his sperm is blocked from leaving his body.
- Single women and lesbian couples who wish to become pregnant also use sperm donation.
- The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends that all donor sperm be frozen, quarantined for at least six months, and then is retested for health and genetic quality before being used for fertility treatments.
WHAT IS SPERM DONATION ?
- Sperm donation is when a man makes his sperm available to a couple who can otherwise not get pregnant on their own due to male infertility. Sperm donation can also be used in the treatment of a single woman or partner in a lesbian couple who desires a pregnancy but lacks a male partner.
A physician can either inseminate the donated sperm into the recipient woman’s uterus (artificial insemination) or combine the donated sperm with a woman’s egg in a lab during IVF to create an embryo that will later be implanted in the recipient woman’s uterus or the uterus of a gestational carrier. Sperm may be donated in a fertility clinic’s andrology lab, or the male can donate his sperm to a sperm bank. Sperm banks often compensate men for their time and involvement (it is not legal in the United States to pay one for donated tissue).
Doctors have been using donor sperm for artificial insemination for more than a century. More recently the use of donor sperm has decreased as the use of ICSI for the treatment of male infertility has become widespread.
ICSI is used to enhance the fertilization process of IVF by injecting a single sperm directly into a mature egg. As a result, an embryo is formed and placed into a women’s uterus or fallopian tube.
After the man donates his sperm by way of masturbation, it is usually frozen and quarantined. When physicians are ready to use the donated sperm in fertility treatments, it is retested for health and genetic quality.
- Donated sperm is generally used when a male partner’s reproductive system has abnormalities. These abnormalities can be caused by:
- Refers to blockage of the ejaculatory ducts, which are the passageways that allow sperm to travel through the prostate and into the urethra to exit the body during ejaculation.
- Testicular failure
- The inability of a man’s sex organs to produce sperm or other male hormones, typically testosterone. Testicular failure can either be congenital or occur as a result of an injury, radiation treatment or chemotherapy.
- Absence of sperm
- Also known as azoospermia, a condition in which a male’s semen contains no sperm.
- Sperm abnormalities
- Decreased sperm count and other abnormalities in sperm or semen can inhibit the male’s fertility. Some of the most common known reasons for decreased sperm count include sexually transmitted infections (STIs), exposure to pesticides, plastics and other toxic chemicals, obesity, stress or regular use of illicit substances.
- Other reasons for sperm donation include ejaculatory dysfunction, a sexual dysfunction that occurs when a man has trouble ejaculating his semen – either ejaculating too soon, too late or not at all. Ejaculatory dysfunction may affect a man’s ability to get a woman pregnant naturally. Physicians may also use sperm donation if a man is aware that he carries a specific genetic abnormality that he and his partner do not want to potentially pass on to their child.