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Sperm Donation

Often Intended Parents need donated sperm for new family creation.  If you need donated sperm, let Omega Family Global source it.  Please contact us if you have any questions about use of donated sperm. As a courtesy, information about donated sperm is provided in this section.

Sperm Donation, Rationale, Types, and Success Rates

Sperm donation is defined as a man (termed sperm donor) donating his semen [which contains individual sperm cells (gametes) and other fluids of the ejaculate] for the purpose of inseminating or impregnating a woman who is not necessarily his partner. This donation can be for profit or for altruistic reasons. Sperm can be donated anonymously, for example, to a sperm bank, or privately to a woman or couple that requested such. The latter type of sperm donation is termed private, non-anonymous, or known.

People wanting donated sperm are heterosexual couples experiencing male infertility, lesbian couples, and single women wanting to start a family.

In treating infertility, donated sperm can be either injected into a woman’s uterus or used to fertilize eggs in a lab (in vitro fertilization: IVF). The use of donated sperm falls under third party reproduction and if combined with eggs in a laboratory (IVF) it is termed assisted reproductive technology (ART). The Centers for Disease Control defines any handing of both (gametes) in a laboratory as an ART procedure.

Sperm donation and the use of donated sperm have a longer history than the use of surrogates and donated eggs.  This is due to greater progress in science and medicine in this area. The first commercial sperm bank in the United States opened in Roseville, Minnesota, in 1971. Due to advances in fertility treatment success rates, the use of donated sperm has declined in heterosexual intended parent couples and increased for single women and lesbian couples.

Donating sperm or using donated sperm has extensive legal implications. In most cases sperm donors give up all legal rights regarding children produced from sperm. Typically this is accomplished through the legal agreements sperm donors make with sperm banks, and the agreements made by sperm banks to intended parents. In some cases intended parents make legal agreements that include provisions for co-parenting. In any case, the validity and enforceability of legal agreements need to be of high consideration. Laws regarding sperm donation do vary by country and state (United States of America).

A recent (January 2014) high-profile court case in Kansas underscores the importance of the legal considerations of sperm donation. A Kansas State Court ruled a local Kansas man was liable for child support for a child born from his donated sperm, despite having contracted with the intended parents (lesbian couple) to the contrary.

Rationale for Use of Donated Sperm

The rationale for using donated sperm is similar to that of using a donated egg; suitable gametes are simply not available to intended parent(s). In the case of single women or Intended Parents that are lesbian couples, donated sperm is a must in order to start a family. However, in many cases where Intended Parents are heterosexual couples donated sperm is often required for family creation.

Infertility in Intended Parents (heterosexual) is resultant of issues with the male at equal frequency as the female. In males there are a variety of medical disorders that include hormonal imbalances, psychological problems and physical damage to the reproductive organs making gametes (sperm) unavailable. While there are a number of treatments for such disorders in many cases treatment does not work.  This is because many cases of male infertility are caused by testicular damage. The damage often prevents the testicles from producing sperm cells. Damaged testicles rarely regain their ability to produce healthy sperm cells.   This is somewhat analogous to menopause, where no more gametes (eggs) are available.

Besides testicular damage, the main causes of male infertility are low sperm production (quantity) and poor sperm quality.

In some cases donated sperm is indicated because the intended father may be a carrier of an undesired genetic condition or carry genes that could contribute to a disease of genetic origin in the child. Such diseases include, but are not limited to Cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Sickle-cell disease, and Turner syndrome.

Sources and Selection of Donated Sperm

Most sperm used in fertility processes is from a sperm bank. However, some Intended Parent(s) have arranged for a private donation.   Banking sperm has been commonplace for several decades as the process of freezing sperm is highly developed since the 1970s. Sperm bank procedures for donor screening in the United States are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and guided by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the American Association of Tissue Banks, and the Centers for disease Control (CDC). Many states within the United States also have legal requirements that must be followed.

In the United States there are about 150 registered sperm banks. Many of these are located near universities due to the high concentration of local young, intelligent, men.   In general, the genetic and personal qualities of a sperm donor, and desired by intended parents are concentrated in college students. Therefore, a high percentage of donated sperm in the United States is from this demographic group.

Intended Parents using donated sperm from a commercial source select donor sperm from information collected on donors by the sperm bank. Intended parents select on the basis of the donor’s looks, personality, academic ability, race, and many other factors.  There are regulations, which vary depending on the state, regarding donor anonymity, the number of offspring permitted per donor, and parentage. Some sperm banks, either by choice or regulation, limit the amount of information available to potential recipients. Sperm can also be attained through private donation and some intended parents have asked a man known to them for a donation due to his physical and mental traits. The desire to obtain more information on donors is one reason why some Intended Parent(s) prefer use of a known donor (private donation).

With sperm from sperm banks, legal protections are given to sperm donors regarding paternal responsibility by the contracts they make with the receiving sperm bank, and by sperm bank contracts with Intended Parent(s). In private sperm donations these agreements need to be crafted and the parties informed of their rights.

Omega Family Global assists Intended Parents with the acquisition of donated sperm from commercial operations. If Intended Parents have a private donor arranged, Omega Family Global can brief the Intended Parents on the legal implications, draft all necessary agreements, and arrange medical assistance with the process of donation and other processes required.

Safety and Regulation of Donated Sperm

For public health reasons, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates human reproductive tissue, which includes donated sperm (semen). Donated reproductive tissue (sperm) are regulated as human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products (HCT/Ps).  Any establishment that performs one or more manufacturing steps for HCT/Ps (recovery, processing, storage, labelling, packaging or distribution of products) must register with FDA and list their HCT/Ps in accordance with Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1271.

Information on any of these FDA registered facilities can be publically accessed through the following link:

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cber/CFAppsPub/tiss/index.cfm

The FDA also conducts inspections of facilities that are registered for collection and handling of human biological material such as sperm. Various factors can determine the frequency of inspection, including any objectionable conditions found on a prior inspection and/or if FDA received Information regarding an establishment indicating there is a potential violation of FDA regulations.

Donor screening consists of reviewing the donor’s relevant medical records for risk factors for, and clinical evidence of, relevant communicable disease agents and genetic diseases.  These records include a current donor medical history interview to determine medical history and relevant social behavior, a current physical examination, and treatments related to medical conditions that may suggest the donor is at increased risk for a relevant communicable disease.

Sperm donors must be tested for the below listed infectious diseases (referred to as “relevant communicable disease agents and diseases” in the FDA regulations):

  1. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), types 1 and 2
  2. Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
  3. Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
  4. Treponema pallidum (i.e. syphilis)
  5. Chlamydia trachomatis
  6. Neisseria gonorrhea
  7. Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV), types I and II
  8. Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

 

For safety reasons sperm banks typically have a quarantine period of at least six months before donor semen will be used to inseminate a woman. The rationale is the donor is tested for communicable diseases six, or more months, after the last donation to ensure previous tests failed to detect a newly acquired disease.

Sperm donor screening typically includes collection of family history as it may relate to genetic diseases.   Some, but not all sperm banks conduct genetic counselling and genetic testing. Genetic counselling is conducted by recording family medical history, typically three generations, to determine if there are potential genetic disease issues. Genetic testing involves collecting DNA samples from the donor and analyzing it for genetic diseases or chromosomal abnormalities.

In a study published by Sims, et el., (Fertil Steril. 2010 Jun;94(1):126-9), that surveyed 26 sperm banks for their genetic screening practices, found the majority of sperm banks did testing on the majority of sperm donor applicants. Screening applicants for being a cystic fibrosis (CF) carrier and having chromosomal abnormalities were the tests commonly conducted on the applicants. The authors reported Tay-Sachs disease carrier screening was performed additionally on most donors with Jewish heritage. The survey further found significant variation in applicant screening for other disorders that occur with increased frequency in people of Jewish heritage.   The survey authors concluded the following:

“The genetic testing performed on sperm donors varies significantly at sperm banks across the United States. Therefore, recipients should be clearly informed about the specific evaluations performed on their donor of interest. Thus it is important that sperm banks employ genetic professionals to evaluate the donors’ and recipients’ medical histories and perform a genetic risk assessment. This will allow clients to make informed decisions about use of semen specimens from an anonymous sperm donor.”

A more recent survey (Fertil Steril. 2013 May;99(6):1587-91) published in 2013 had similar findings and conclusions. In this latter survey of 13 sperm banks in the United States it was learned all 13 facilities assessed donors’ family histories for genetic diseases. Ten of the 13 facilities routinely required informed consent for genetic testing of donor biological samples, thus suggesting not all donors are tested for genetic diseases. The survey authors concluded the following:

“Further research into the best practices for education and consent for sperm donor applicants may be beneficial to ensure the well-being of the donors and their future offspring.”

Omega Family Global only recommends and works with registered facilities and those in good standing. OFG tracks the FDA inspections of clinics, and if any adverse findings are published, OFG ceases working with those respective clinics. It is also OFG advice to obtain donated sperm only from sperm banks that conduct genetic testing. If private sperm donation is the desired option for the intended parent(s), OFG is able to discuss the legal implications, draft needed agreements, and connect clients with physicians and genetic testing facilities.

More information about FDA regulations, procedures, and classifications, regarding human biological material can be accessed through the following link:

http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/TissueTissueProducts/default.htm

Success Rates

Using sperm from a sperm bank ensures a near 100% success rate of fertilizing eggs. The reason is that sperm donors are pre-screened and not accepted if they have low sperm counts (concentration), poor motility (ability to “swim”), and/or poor morphology (shape). Selecting sperm from a sperm bank nearly ensures success with egg fertilization (in vivo or in vitro: respectively in the body or laboratory) because substandard semen is not used.

When using a private sperm donor there may be some issues with his sperm quality. However, in most all cases a fertility clinic would be involved and any issues would be identified and possibly corrected, as can be with the situation of low concentration.

Social and Legal Factors Surrounding Private (Known) or Anonymous Sperm Donation

The use of donated sperm has a much longer history than that of donated eggs. Therefore the amount of unforeseen factors and complexities arising from donated sperm is greater than that of donated eggs. In some cases, modern technology has enabled people to remove or pierce the anonymity of the donor. This is due to the advances in Internet usage, social media, and widening availability of DNA testing. The combination of these factors has enabled anonymous donors to be identified. The Internet has seen a proliferation of donor sibling registries where children resultant of the same donor can find one another. These website users share data on sperm bank name, donor identification number, and personal traits thus enabling them to find previously anonymous sperm donors. At times sperm donors choose to find offspring through these same sites.

Omega Family Global reminds Intended Parent(s) the decision on which type of sperm donor to use should be made when the decision to start a family is make.   Each option has it positive and negative aspects. Here OMG will describe some factors that might be considered for you and your future child.

The use of a known person as a sperm donor, such as a family friend or the sibling of a lesbian partner, presents positive options for the new family to better know their family history (ancestry). Some argue for known sperm donation based upon a potential need to obtain medical information on the donor. Should the child exhibit some disease states, knowing about the genetic background of the child could potentially prove useful in combating future health matters.

However, this known sperm donor could potentially decide later he wants to be a part of the child’s life and this may not be desired by the intended parents. In a worst-case scenario, this donor might choose to legally challenge your parental rights in court for whatever reason. The ability to win such a challenge depends on the laws of the respective country and state where the legal agreements were founded.

Conversely, the use of an anonymous donor can remove concerns over legal challenge of parental rights and being a part of the child´s life. The laws of various states and countries determine the strength or weakness, of this legal protection. Clearly using an anonymous sperm donor, obtained from a sperm bank or agency is the best protection from a donor potentially claiming parental rights. Please see OMG´s legal information on this aspect.

Some argue there are ethical and social concerns about using anonymous sperm donation and the practice should not be permitted. The two primary points presented, is that children have a right to know their biological parents (includes sperm and egg donors), and that there have been cases where sperm from anonymous donors have been used to create dozens of children.

The trend in the United States is to have sperm donors remain anonymous.   At Omega Family Global, we respect the decision of the parties, and do not have a policy on the matter. Intended parents can choose the option best for them based upon their level of comfort. We recommend they completely understand the legal implication of the decision and take into account what each option will mean for their future child. Omega Family Global is here to counsel Intended Parents on the legal implications of each option.

Sperm Donor Compensation and Use Limits

Roughly about five percent of all applicants for sperm donation are accepted. Accepted applicants are typically paid $40 to $100 for each semen sample.  State laws and regulations can dictate a maximum number of children born per donor. For example, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine´s (www.asrm.org) guidelines limit a donor to 25 live births per population area of 850,000. Some sperm banks have their own limits, and lower, such as 10 families (children) per donor maximum.  It is estimated that a donator able to sire a maximum of 10 children may potentially earn $6,000 in a year.   Unlike egg donation, sperm donation is usually motivated by money rather than altruism.