SHOULD SPERM DONOR RULES BE CHANGED?10th January 2017
Do you think that sperm donors should be kept anonymous? Or that sperm donors should be allowed to help create more than 10 families?
Some commentators believe that a ‘relaxation’ of sperm donor rules may go some way to help alleviate the apparent shortage of donor sperm in the UK.
If older men could donate too, and the family limit was increased, more people could get the help they need to have a baby. Reversing anonymity might make sperm donation more attractive, too, and surely we don’t need to screen out so many men who may be perfectly capable of producing a pregnancy.
But sperm donation rules are in place for good reason. Here’s why:
Why can’t older men donate sperm?
Whilst celebrities like Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood have proven that some men are capable of fathering a child well into old age, natural fertility does decline for men just as it does for women - although less drastically - affecting sperm quality. And that’s what matters.
Remember that much more is required of sperm used for donation compared to natural fertilisation. It has to be able to withstand the freezing and thawing process, and all the procedures of fertility treatment. And be the best quality it can be, to maximise chances of pregnancy for the patient.
Why can’t sperm donors be anonymous?
Anonymity was in place for sperm donors up until 2005, when the law was changed in the UK to give donor-conceived people the right to information about their genetic origins, should they want it, when they turn 18 years old.
The earliest we may see this actually happen – as it only applies to sperm donors from 2005 – is in 2023, although some sperm donors may have elected to be identifiable from their donations before 2005.
But information about you as the sperm donor won’t be given automatically in future – the person has to apply to HFEA, the UK regulator for fertility treatment. And even then, they may decide they don’t want to know, or might not even be aware they are donor-conceived.
But even though you’re a traceable and identifiable sperm donor in the UK, you’re still fully protected. As an HFEA-registered sperm donor donating through a licensed clinic, you have no financial, moral or legal responsibility to any children you help to create.
Removing anonymity has made men think very carefully about the implications of sperm donation, ensuring it remains one of the most generous and altruistic things you can do.
Why can’t sperm donors help more than 10 families?
The 10-family limit was introduced by the HFEA for a number of reasons, including to minimise the risk of future relationships between people unaware they are genetically-related.
According to the HFEA, less than 1% of donors – this includes egg and sperm donors - actually create their maximum 10 families.
Why don’t sperm donors get paid more?
Sperm donors in the UK don’t actually get paid for their sperm. The £35 you are given every clinic visit is compensation for any expenses associated with your donation, such as travel. The compensation amount, set by the HFEA, prevents sperm donation being driven by financial reward, whilst ensuring you’re not out of pocket.
Why are so many men screened out?
Many men are screened out early in the process because of reasons such as their age, medical history or health screening results. But the most common reason for rejection is sperm quality.
Donor sperm has to be exceptional, with excellent mobility, motility, a strong count and free of any abnormalities. The fact is that not many men have the quality of sperm we need – it’s why we need lots of men to apply to be sperm donors with us, so we can find the rare men who do.
Apply to be a Semovo sperm donor
Find out if you’ve got the quality sperm we need by applying to join our sperm donation programme. Our regional donation clinics make sperm donation easy and convenient near you, with early morning, evening and weekend appointments.
You’ll be personally supported by a dedicated Donation Team every step of the way, and receive implications counselling so you can become a Semovo sperm donor with confidence.
Semovo sperm donor clinics are in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds with donation locations opening soon in Glasgow, Birmingham and London. Locate your nearest Semovo sperm donor clinic and apply online here.