Treatment using donor sperm for certain infertile couples has been practised in this country for many years. The treatment can take different forms, either a simple insemination treatment called Intra-uterine Insemination (IUI-D) or In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF-D). These methods are the same as IVF and IUI treatments with partner sperm, except that donor sperm is used.
Who is suitable to be a sperm recipient and have treatment with donor sperm?
- Couples, where the male partner has no sperm present in the ejaculate and further investigations show no spermatogenesis (the process of making sperm) in the testicles
- Couples, where the male partner has low levels of sperm in the ejaculate, storage ducts or testicular tissue but the female partner is not suitable to undergo IVF/ICSI treatment
- Men carrying certain inherited genetic disorders
- Single women
- Lesbian couples
Selecting a Donor
All donors are carefully screened and selected through medical history, semen analysis and extensive blood and urine testing for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted diseases and certain genetically inherited conditions. They are required to be fit and healthy without any hereditary disorders and must undergo full implications counselling before proceeding with donations.
We have a selection of donors and we try as far as possible to use a donor who has the same physical characteristics as the male partner, e.g. skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, body build and blood group. This, however, requires a large and constant panel of donors and this might limit the availability of donors in certain ethnic groups.
Occasionally, you may be required to change to an alternative donor if your first choice is not available on commencing a second treatment cycle.
Can I bring my own donor?
If you have a friend or family member who is interested in donating samples for your use, then they should first attend the clinic for a consultation, a full medical questionnaire and initial semen analysis will be performed to see if they are suitable.
It is possible that during screening we may pick up an abnormality in respect to their medical health, a genetic disorder or infertility. Not only would this mean that they are unsuitable to become a sperm donor, but there may be medical implications now and/or in the future. Before undergoing full screening, donors must attend a session with one of our independent Counsellors.
Following consultation and counselling, donors can commence full screening. If you are bringing a donor whose samples are only to be used by yourself, you will be responsible for all of the costs of the screening process, and it is therefore a more expensive method of donor sperm treatment.
Freezing of samples for donation is only commenced after full screening and counselling visits are complete.
What are my choices if the donor sperm does not thaw to an acceptable standard?
All donor sperm samples are frozen as part of the necessary safety and quarantine procedures. Unfortunately, as part of the freeze-thaw process, this results in around 50% of sperm being lost. As such, there are occasions when there is not enough moving, good quality sperm to proceed with the standard IVF procedure. In such cases patients are offered the following options:
- To thaw further donor sperm samples (if more samples are available). Each vial of donor sperm will have a specified cost.
- To convert to ICSI treatment, where the sperm is injected directly into the egg. The ICSI procedure is also at an additional cost to the patient.
- If the patient is undergoing an IUI procedure and the sample is not of suitable quality and there are no further vials of sperm available to thaw, the patient will be offered the choice of either abandoning the treatment or continuing with the treatment after being counselled of the lower chance of success.