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 permitted by law.
The process of sperm donation
Sperm donation should be considered as an act of generosity to couples who are unable to conceive or to single women who want to have their own children.
According to applicable legislation, the sperm bank may give the donor a certain sum of money (defined by law) as compensation for any financial loss, which may have occurred due to the time allocated for the sperm donation, and any related expenses. In no case, however, should the money received by the donor be the main motive for the donation.
Having taken the decision to become a donor, the candidate must undergo a series of tests to determine whether he can actually proceed to the process of sperm donation. It is recommended that a candidate sperm donor is tested with regard to the following:
Most sperm banks set the age limit for sperm donors from 18 to 34 years, and some to 39 years.
- Psychological state
Candidate sperm donors are required to be examined by a mental health professional to exclude individuals who may be suffering from a mental illness.
- Semen analysis
The semen should be examined before the actual donation takes place. The candidate donor is advised to have sexual abstinence of 2-5 days. After a sample of semen is collected, a laboratory testing is performed to check various parameters of the sperm, such as quantity, number and motility. A suitable donor should have semen which contains more than 15 million sperm per millimeter and demonstrates normal morphology and sperm motility 40%.
- Medical background
The medical background of the candidate donor is very important. The existence of any hereditary disease would cause termination of the process. In any case, the family history of the candidate donor should provide information for the previous two generations.
- Medical exams
Specific medical examinations would confirm good health of the donor and exclude the following transmissible diseases:
- Hepatitis B (HBsAg)
- Hepatitis C (HCV)
- HIV I-II (AIDS)
- Syphilis (RPR)
If someone wishes to become a sperm donor at regular intervals, the above tests should be repeated every 6 months. The donor should also indicate any noticeable change in his health.
- Genetic testing
A blood sample will be analyzed to detect genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis and thalassaemia. Additional tests may be conducted depending on family history, race or ethnicity. People of African descent, for example, are likely to be tested for sickle-cell anaemia. Most sperm banks exclude donors who may be at increased risk of transmitting a genetic disease. Further, donors are subjected to a karyotype test to detect chromosome abnormalities.
- 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 applicable legislation, the maximum number of children that may be born by the sperm of the same donor on the territory of Greece is ten.