Right. Let’s be grown up about this. Why is it that when we talk about sperm donation, we are catapulted back to school sex education lessons where sniggers were stifled and cheeks were flushed.
Well, titter ye not. When it comes to donating sperm, there are some pretty important points that should be considered.
With the National Sperm Bank confirming it has attracted only five donors in eight months, we looked at two articles, one in The Telegraph and the other in The Huffington Post; between them they have some rather helpful information for those pondering visiting a sperm bank.
Rob Crossan writes for the Telegraph, addressing the need to do more to encourage donors
His experience with sperm donation taught him that it is definitely not about the money. With most sperm banks paying no more than £35 to cover travel expenses and your time, it is not a ticket to prosperity.
Rob also advises to not expect porn, stating that your phone may well come in handy. He adds: “Though as my receptionist helpfully offered: ‘we do have a charger for Androids and IPhone’s if you need it!”
And you may find out that your own potency is in question, by way of what he describes as “what can be a frankly brutal assessment.”
This next point is arguably the most important of all. “You are not anonymous.”
There has been a change in the law which means that on reaching the age of 18, a child conceived using your sperm has the right to find out who you are. While you have no financial or moral obligations, you would need to be prepared that one day, you just might get that knock on your door.
It can be a bit of a kick in the proverbials too. For instance finding out that you are too old to donate can hurt. Rob confirms that the “London Sperm Bank doesn’t accept donations from men over the age of 41.” There is a also whole long list of reasons that prevent you from donating, including: being too sexually promiscuous, if there is an inherited disorder in your family, if you are adopted and don’t know your biological parents, if you take recreational drugs regularly to name but a few.
Also, says Rob: “if you’re unable to commit to donating once or twice a week for at least three to four months at the same centre. Off putting, isn’t it?”
Sperm donor screening can be so rigorous
The article cites Alan Pacey, professor of Andrology at Sheffield University as saying: “We need to do something.” Continuing: “At the moment about a third of the sperm that’s being donated in the UK is coming from outside our national borders.”
Suzi Godson, The Times sex columnist and editor of www.suzigodson.com, writes for The Huffington Post and touches on many of the same issues as Rob.
She notes that it is likely many more men tried to volunteer; due to sperm donor screening being “so rigorous,” Suzi says: “only one in 10 applicants make it through the testing process.”
The sex columnist agrees that some “men are put off before they even start.” Adding: “Because screening can reveal issues about future fertility, current health and the health of any existing, or future children, men are, quite rightly, advised to think very carefully before they decide to donate sperm.”
Sperm donation process can be all consuming, yet bring so much happiness
There are issues around potential lawsuits should a donor-conceived child be born with an abnormality, says Suzi.
With one in five men aged under 25 having a low sperm count, they may be rejected, the sex expert says.
And Suzi follows on from Rob’s point on the time-consuming commitment too, stating that “the National Sperm Bank nine months to confirm that it is healthy and viable.”
Suzi goes on to explain the challenging process in more detail. Her timescales differ slightly from those given by Rob’s; nonetheless, it cannot be denied that the process is lengthy, probing and takes serious commitment.
There is no doubt at all that it needs to be done for the right reasons
IVFbabble.com hear from so many potential parents that rely on the kindness of others to help them realise their dreams of starting or growing their families. For all of these people, we urge anyone who is considering becoming a sperm donor to carefully consider all the stiff, unyielding rules, regulations and procedures, yet think of the happiness you could bring.
We say: “Come on Britain – and the rest of the world: let’s rise to the challenge. Let’s do more to encourage our men to donate their sperm. Come on!”
Let’s hope the associated organisations hear us!