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Donor sperm

Donor sperm can help those struggling with infertility as a result of sperm abnormalities. Donor sperm can also help single women and same-sex couples conceive. The sperm may be obtained from a known or unknown donor, and are used as part of the regular IVF or intrauterine insemination (IUI) process.

Who may need donor sperm?

There are a number of factors that may preclude a man from being able to use his own sperm. This may include:

Inability to produce sperm

Azoospermia refers to when a man’s semen contains no sperm. If sperm are unable to be retrieved from the testes either (in a process called ‘testicular sperm extraction‘), donor sperm will be required. However, if a man produces any sperm at all, even in incredibly small numbers, the sperm can usually be obtained via testicular biopsy. We can then select individual sperm and fertilise the egg through a special procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).

Severe sperm abnormalities or poor sperm quality

In some cases sperm are present, but there are abnormalities of the sperm that prevent successful fertilisation of the egg. Sometimes these abnormalities may be obvious under the microscope – in other cases, poor sperm quality may be suggested by repeated failure to achieve successful fertilisation or ICSI.

Presence of a genetic disorder

Some men carry a genetic disorder that they do not wish to pass on to their child. If there is potential for this to occur, genetic testing of embryos is often sufficient in order to screen for and prevent inheritance of the disorder. However, if genetic testing is not suitable, the use of donor sperm may be an appropriate alternative.

Lesbian couples and single women who want to have a child also require donor sperm.

How can I obtain donor sperm?

There are several ways you can obtain donor sperm:

Known donor
Known donor

You may prefer to find a sperm donor from your own social circles, including acquaintances, family and friends. Letting people know about your fertility journey and asking those around you for help can feel scary, but you may be surprised at who is willing to consider donation.

Advertising for a sperm donor
Advertising for a sperm donor

Some people choose to obtain donor sperm by publishing an advertisement in an online forum or printed material. Before officially publishing an ad, it is a legal requirement to obtain approval by sending a copy of the advertisement to the Department of Human Services.

Anonymous donor through Newlife IVF
Anonymous donor through Newlife IVF

Newlife IVF is dedicated to recruiting local sperm donors so that you have another means by which you can access donor sperm. We are also in the process of seeking approval to import donor sperm and expect to have imported donor sperm available for use from late 2020.

A green graphic representing an embryo

What happens once donor sperm is obtained?

Once donor sperm is secured, the sperm are used to fertilise the female’s egg. There are a number of methods for achieving this, including:

We will consider a number of factors, including your current fertility levels and preferences, before deciding which particular method to use.

Where can I find more information?

The information on this page is certainly not exhaustive, and we recommend that you refer to the information provided by the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) to gain a more complete understanding of the issues pertaining to the use of donor sperm. If the use of donor sperm is a suitable option for you, our fertility specialists will also dedicate time to helping you navigate this process.

Becoming a sperm donor

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