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Sperm Donation

Single women, lesbian couples and couples struggling with male factor infertility may turn to sperm donation to complete their families. Men willing to be sperm donors can find out what to expect in this short summary below.

What is a sperm donor?
A sperm donor is a man who chooses, for any number of reasons, to donate his sperm to a couple who cannot have a child due to male factor infertility.  Generally sperm donations are performed anonymously.  An anonymous sperm donor will generally not meet the couple that uses the sperm or be given any information about the couple or any resultant child's whereabouts.  He may, however, be given information about the resulting pregnancies if any.
What is involved in being a sperm donor?
Each sperm bank has its own requirements and procedures for their sperm donors; however many requirements are universal i.e. all sperm banks will mirror them.  The process at any individual sperm bank may be more or less extensive in terms of the evaluation but there will be many similarities.  Most sperm banks look for the following qualifications:

The donor is between the ages of 18-44;
The donor was not adopted;
The donor is healthy with no significant illness;
The donor has no family history of genetic diseases; 
The donor has the ability and willingness to produce a specimen in the laboratory 4-8 times per month; and
The donor has the ability and willingness to make a minimum of 6-month commitment.

The following is a typical procedure at a sperm bank.  He will be asked a number of medical questions over the phone and then scheduled to come in to the bank (or laboratory) for a meeting.  During this first meeting the laboratory will spend significant time with the donor's medical history and his family history.  They will go through the clinic rules and procedures.  Many labs will ask for an initial semen sample to be tested to see how much sperm is in the ejaculate, its quality, and how well it freezes.
Assuming the sample passes scrutiny and donor meets the bank's basic medical criteria, a full physical will be performed with blood screening.  The donor will produce another sample of semen and urine which will be tested for infectious disease, sexually transmitted diseases or genetic problems. 
Assuming these tests are negative the donor will start regular donations of 1-2 per week for at least 6 months. Again, each laboratory has its own requirements.
The medical criteria for sperm donations has gotten more stringent in the past few years.  Screening for HIV has prompted the FDA to require a six month wait and sperm freezing before an Intended Parent may use the sperm of an anonymous donor.  Sperm from known donors will not be required to undergo the waiting period before the sperm will be used.

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