Sperm donation -- all you need to know

Sperm donation is no longer a taboo word today thanks to the Bollywood movie called Vicky Donor. It is basically a technique used when the male partner is infertile and sperm from a donor is used to impregnate the female. But before you think any male can pop into the clinic and donate his sperm, you should know that there are a score of tests prospective donors have to undergo before they can donate sperm.

Certain facts you should know about sperm donation:

  • The donor has to be between the ages of 21-45 and not suffer from HIV, hepatitis B and C, hypertension, diabetes, STDs and genetic disorders.
  • The blood group and Rh status of the individual also needs to be noted.
  • The tests are thorough and need to cover everything including height, weight, age, skin and eye colour, family medical history etc.
  • A little background check including educational qualification and profession also takes place.
  • The compensation part is in a moral grey area. Although the rules are pretty clear for financial compensation for a surrogate mother the rules for paying sperm donors isn't very clear. According to guidelines by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), no remuneration can be paid for any form of donation, be it of kidneys, blood, or sperms. The only compensation that is paid is in the form of expenses incurred during and directly related (travelling expense, etc.) to sperm donation. However, various sperm banks have been known to approach donors directly and promise them certain amounts for successful donations.

How does sperm donation work?

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An infertile couple can approach a fertility clinic where they are told their various options. These include the various assisted reproduction techniques and one of them is getting a sperm donor. There are various different ways to get sperm donors.

The traditional Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) procedure dictates that a sperm donor can only be approached through a sperm bank. The fertility clinic has to obtain sperm from appropriate banks though neither the clinic nor the couple should know the identity of the donor. However, it shall have the donor's entire information like height, weight, skin colour, educational qualification, ethnicity, profession, etc. The sperm is usually inseminated using various artificial reproduction techniques.

Flaying the law

Due to lack of stringent adherence to laws, fertility centres are known to approach donors directly although this is illegal. In addition, the internet has given couples another way to directly contact a sperm donor. There are various websites, which allow everyone to put up their information including intending parents, sperm donors, surrogate mothers and egg donor. These websites effectively take away any way to regulate the procedure. Couples who want a child can state their preferences and they can approach the donor after checking out his profile. The profile usually has all the information required for the parents to select a donor including pictures although there is no way to guarantee about the authenticity of the information involved. There are options to find donors in other countries as well and this has led to a sort of fertility tourism where women visit countries where sperm donation is permitted. Sperm donation laws vary all over the world, for example a single woman in India is allowed ART but it's illegal in various countries so interested couples might travel to India where it is legal.

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