The procedure of sperm donation is a simple way to treat male infertility, namely in cases when no sperm is found in the ejaculate or in cases of a genetic or hereditary disorder, which may be passed on to the child. Sperm donation also applies to women who want to have a child as a single parent.
In Greece, sperm donation is legally permitted.
The process of sperm donation
In sperm donation, a man gives his sperm – coming from an ejaculation – to help a woman or couple have a child. The sperm is frozen for at least six months. The donor is re-tested six months after giving the sample and if he is healthy, the sperm can be used. How? It can be injected into the woman’s endometrial cavity by insemination (IUI) or used to fertilize eggs in the laboratory as part of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Sperm donation is done for altruistic reasons, i.e. the donor wants to help a woman who does not have a partner or a couple facing a fertility problem and cannot procreate.
The current law states that the sperm bank can compensate the donor with a sum of money (also defined by law) for any financial loss of the donor because of the time spent on donating sperm and for any related expenses. Under no circumstances, however, can this amount of money received by the donor, be the primary motivation for donating.
Having made the decision that he wishes to become a donor he will have to undergo a series of tests to determine whether they can proceed with the procedure. It is recommended that men who become sperm donors are tested for the following:
Most sperm banks have set an age limit of 18 to 39 years, and some have set an age limit of 34 years.
- Mental Health
It is essential that the donor is screened by a mental health professional to be sure that he is not suffering from any mental illness.
- Sperm examination
The sperm is tested before the donation is carried out. The donor must have 2 to 5 days of sexual abstinence before the collection of the semen and the sample must then be analyzed in the laboratory for the quantity, number, and motility of the spermatozoa. Each sample should contain more than 15 million sperm per ml, of normal morphology, of which 40% should be mobile, in order to increase the chances of pregnancy and for the donor to be considered fertile.
- Medical History
The medical background of the donor is particularly important to establish the existence of any inherited disease, which makes it impossible to continue the procedure. In any case, the personal history should provide additional information on the family history of the two previous generations.
Some specific tests will confirm the good health of the donor and will complete the screening procedure to exclude the following STDs:
1.Hepatitis B (HBsAg)
2.Hepatitis C (HCV)
3.AIDS (HIV I-II)
- Genetic testing
A blood sample will be analyzed to investigate whether the prospective donor is a carrier of a genetic disease, such as cystic fibrosis, and thalassemia. Additional tests may be performed depending on family history, roots, origin. African Americans, for example, are most likely to be tested for sickle cell anemia. Most sperm banks exclude donors who may have an increased risk of transmitting a genetic disease. Furthermore, donors are undergoing a karyotype test to check if they are chromosomally free of disease.
- Personal and sexual profile
The candidate donor should also provide a detailed history of sexual activity, as well as some personal information that may be related to his habits, education, and interests.
If the medical screening indicates the existence of a disease, the candidate donor is excluded from the process of sperm donation (i.e. is not allowed to become a sperm donor) and he is informed about his condition so that he takes action and seeks treatment. Further, he must sign a declaration that the donation was made anonymously.
The collection of semen takes place in a designated and isolated room at the premises of the sperm bank with the use of a sterile container. Then it is stored frozen for six months and it is not being used until the donor is again tested for infectious diseases to avoid the risk of transmission. After that, the sperm can be thawed and used, if needed. According to greek legislation, the maximum number of children coming from the same donor is ten.
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