Sperm donors – the hidden heros behind many of today’s families

Have you ever thought about donating your sperm? Like organ or blood donation, sperm donation is a wonderfully altruistic act that can help others in need – in this case, giving people who are struggling with fertility issues the chance to start their own family.

Sperm donors are more important than ever before

An increasing number of single women and lesbian couples are now using IVF to help them conceive. Since Victorian laws changed in 2010, allowing single women and lesbian couples to access IVF, the number of women using sperm donors has quadrupled. Indeed single women and lesbian couples now make up 85% of sperm donor recipients, with the remaining 15% representing heterosexual couples (2018 data courtesy of VARTA).

These women and couples typically gain access to donor sperm by asking someone they know to donate sperm (e.g. a friend or family member) or by using an anonymous sperm donor via a registered sperm bank. Unfortunately, like blood banks, sperm banks often face shortages – in the 2018–19 financial year, 1172 Victorians were treated with donor sperm but this sperm came from only 424 donors (with each donor only allowed to provide sperm to up to 10 women).

Long story short, if you’re thinking about donating your mighty fine swimmers, doing so sooner rather than later would make a world of difference to those currently waiting for donor sperm to conceive.

Need a little more motivation?

A strong desire to help others is a great start but some other reasons you may consider donating include:

You’re not ready to have children yet or don’t plan to raise a family of your own

Families are a source of joy for many of us – they can bring meaningful relationships and purpose to our lives. But if you are not yet ready to have children or not sure if you ever will, donating your sperm can help provide a similar sense of purpose and meaning. Indeed, studies have found that men who donate sperm report a sense of satisfaction that they played a role in the formation of a new life.1

You already have children, and want to help others become parents too

After experiencing the joy of parenthood yourself, you may simply want to give those who can’t conceive naturally the extra help they need to start their own family.

You’ve seen people struggle with fertility issues

Many sperm donors know people who have struggled to fall pregnant, or may have faced their own challenges when starting a family, and would now like to help others in similar circumstances. This often includes gay men who may have required donor eggs and a female surrogate in order to start their own family. Donating can be incredibly rewarding, especially when you know from your own experience how much of an impact you are having on someone else’s life.

A few things to weigh up before becoming a sperm donor

Before becoming a sperm donor, there are a few things to be aware of:

Sperm donors do not have any parental rights nor parental responsibilities

When donation occurs through a registered IVF clinic, sperm donors have no parental rights nor reponsibilities to any children born from their donated sperm. You can be reassured that the child’s legal parents are entirely responsible for raising the child, including all financial costs.

A child may contact their sperm donor once they turn 18

In Australia, children born from donated sperm have the right to obtain their sperm donor’s contact details once they turn 18. Not all children choose to, but if they do get in touch with you, you still have no legal obligation as a parent. However, you may decide that you too would like some involvement in the child’s life.

A sperm donor can also request contact with a child once they turn 18

As an anonymous sperm donor, you also have the option of applying for information about any children conceived from your sperm once they turn 18. If you do so, the child will be informed of your request – they will then let you know if they would like any contact with you and the type of contact they are comfortable with.2

Sperm donors are not paid

In Australia, it is illegal for donors to receive a payment for their sperm. However, you may be entitled to compensation for certain expenses associated with providing the donation, such as medical or travel expenses.

How do I go about becoming a sperm donor?

There are a couple of ways you can donate sperm:

1. Donate to someone you know

You might have a friend who is struggling with fertility, is single or is in a same-sex relationship. In these cases you can choose to donate your sperm to that person or couple specifically, using a fertility clinic as an intermediary.

2. Donate anonymously to a sperm bank

Many people are unable to find a sperm donor using their own personal contacts, e.g. family or friends. In this case, they can access sperm from an anonymous donor via a registered sperm bank (usually associated with their fertility or IVF clinic). By donating your sperm to one of these banks, you can help up to 10 women or couples become pregnant. You can donate a sperm sample one or more times, after which your sperm will be frozen and stored for future use.

What’s involved?

At Newlife IVF, we aim to make donating as easy as possible for you. Five simple steps are involved, four of which can be completed on the same day at our Box Hill treatment centre:

  1. Meet with our counsellor who will ensure you understand your legal rights
  2. Meet with one of our doctors who will take your medical history (for the recipient’s records) and order the required blood tests and semen analysis
  3. Have your blood taken by our on-site pathology team
  4. Donate your sperm using our private, on-site sperm collection amenities
  5. Repeat blood test 3 months later.

Your donated sperm will be quarantined until both your semen analysis and 3-month blood tests are given the all clear. At this point, your frozen sperm become part of our sperm bank. Women and couples requiring donor sperm will be able to choose sperm from you or our other donors based on information we supply to them about each available donor, e.g. physical characteristics, medical history, hobbies/interests, the reasons you give for becoming a donor. As such, we welcome sperm donors from all nationalities and cultures to ensure that women and couples have sufficient choice based on their own nationality and culture.

Your frozen sperm may be stored for years before it is used and it may only be used once or many times – up to the 10 family limit that exists in Victoria. A woman or couple may even choose to access your sperm a second or third time in order to complete their family and maintain genetic lineage between siblings.

Your sperm can only be frozen for up to 10 years. After this time, any remaining sperm are discarded.

Ready to donate life?

Newlife IVF is a doctor-owned specialist fertility centre in Melbourne that provides single women, heterosexual and same-sex couples across Victoria with the extra help they need to conceive. We are very welcoming of new sperm donors, including single men, fathers and gay individuals or couples. If you are considering becoming a donor, please call us on (03) 8080 8933 so we can give you all the facts about sperm donation and tell you how you can best help others to create the family they are dreaming of.

Further reading

  1. Sperm donor information pack, Sperm Donors Australia
  2. Old sperm and international imports: Victoria has a donor shortage (The Age news article)
  3. More Victorian women choosing to be single mothers (The Sydney Morning Herald news article)

* Become a donor with Newlife IVF

References


  1. Bossema ER, Janssens PMW, Landwehr F et al. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 2013; 92:679–85. 
  2. The family law implications of early contact between sperm donors and their donor offspring. Australian Institute of Family Studies website (accessed online October 2019).