Sperm donors are usually altruistic volunteers recruited from either a local student population or from men who already have families and who wish to help others. It is possible for couples to use a known donor or a relative of the husband so that the baby will be related to both parents. This is acceptable if all parties agree. However attention is paid to the ethical, psychological and moral issues involved in using a known donor.
Donor sperm can be useful in two ways.
- Donor insemination
- IVF with the use of donor sperm.
Sperm donors are usually healthy men of normal intelligence and fertility with no history of mental disorders, genetic or inherited diseases. They should be between 18 and 55 years old and preferably should have had children of their own.
Sperm donors usually undergo complete physical and genital examination including checking urethral discharge, genital warts and ulcers. The presence of any of these will not make the donor acceptable. Donors are also screened for infectious and genetic diseases e.g HIV, Hepatitis B and C, syphilis and gonorrhoea as well as sickle cell disease. The blood group and Rhesus factor of donors are determined.
All donor sperm should be frozen and stored for a minimum of six months (quarantined) so that a retesting for infectious diseases in particular HIV can be carried out on the donor before the sperm is used. Because some sperm die during freezing procedures, we usually insist that only men with a high number of motile sperm in the ejaculate are acceptable as donors. In other words, some fertile men may not be suitable as sperm donors.
Counselling is important in sperm donation, one of the points raised is that they must renounce all rights to the donated sperm and that their identity and that of recipients would not be disclosed.