5 things you must know about sperm donation
With infertility among men and women on the rise, the option of sperm donation is catching up amid urban couples. We tell you how to choose a sperm bank
When Kanika Sharma (name changed), 28, visited a Delhi-based fertility centre with her husband last year, her world came crashing down. She was told her chances of conceiving naturally were grim. However, the doctor showed her a ray of hope with artificial insemination through sperm donation. Today, she is a mother of a healthy baby girl.
Sharma is not alone. There are hundreds of couples across the country who are benefiting from this line of treatment. “A large-scale survey conducted in 2007-2008 by the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, revealed that about 8.7 per cent of couples suffered from infertility,” informs Dr Shivani Sachdev-Gour, gynaecologist and director at SCI Healthcare, Delhi.
This prompts the need of quality sperm banks in India. However, globally, sperm donation is no longer the only solution for infertile couples. Men are choosing to freeze their sperms for various reasons—from lifestyle, medical, age, or simply a matter of choice.
When should you consider sperm donation
Besides, sperm donation offers a safe alternative for couples where one of the partners is undergoing medical treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy. Dr Kaberi Banerjee, IVF and infertility specialist, Advance Fertility and Gynecology Center, Delhi, lists out the following conditions under which men are advised to opt for sperm banking:
- Surgeries which can impair their ability to produce sperms. The surgeries can include testicular, varicocoele and prostate among others
- If one of the partners is undergoing cancer treatment
- In case of erectile dysfunction or diseases causing erectile dysfunction such as diabetes
- Men in high risk occupations such as those involving exposure to chemicals, high heat, radiation
- Men who have suffered a stroke or paralysis attack in the past
- Sportspersons such as cyclists, wrestlers, hockey and football players among others
How do you go about sperm donation
The bank ‘washes’ the sample to extract sperm from the rest of the material in the semen. A cryoprotectant semen extender is added if the sperm is to be placed in frozen storage. A semen sample can produce more than 20 vials or straws, depending on the quantity of the ejaculate and whether the sample is ‘washed’ or ‘unwashed’.
The ‘unwashed’ samples are used for intracervical insemination treatments while the ‘washed’ samples are used in intrauterine insemination and for in-vitro fertilisation procedures. “In case, a couple is going for an unknown donor, the sperm bank carries out extensive checks to verify the donor’s medical records,” says Dr Banerjee.
Continue reading to know who is an ideal candidate for sperm donation.
How are donors selected for sperm donation
The donors are selected on the basis of their physical characteristics, age, education and occupation. They are screened for medical as well as sexually transmitted diseases. Once the donor clears all the levels, the semen is obtained by masturbation. A test vial is prepared and the quality and quantity of sperms are analysed. The rest of the sample is stored in multiple, smaller vials and are frozen using liquid nitrogen. This entire process takes about two to three hours.
“One of the cons of going for an unknown donor is that the couple cannot participate in the screening process, so they cannot assess his personality,” says Dr Banerjee. According to the Indian Council for Medical Reasearch, the sperm bank requires the donor to waive all parental rights. “This requirement protects the child and mother because there is no danger of the donor seeking custody of the child,” adds Dr Sachdev-Gour.
Things to consider before sperm donation
While the success or failure of an infertility treatment depends on myriad factors, the sperm bank and donor are equally important. “Therefore, it is essential to opt for an accredited sperm bank with immaculate data-keeping facilities,” says Dr Banerjee. Here’s a ready reckoner you need to consult before finalising a sperm bank:
- How long has the sperm bank been in business?
- Is the sperm bank accredited?
- Does it employ full-time genetic counsellors?
- What type of donor screening does the sperm bank perform?
- Does it limit the number of vials collected from each donor?
The process of sperm donation is often expensive and most insurance plans do not cover the costs. However, if the donor is known, you may not have to pay for the sperm, but still incur the cost of insemination.
If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding sperm banking, please share them in our Comment box below. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest from theIndusparent.com