Since the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) removed donor anonymity in 2005 to allow children born from donated sperm or eggs to trace their biological parents, there has been a significant drop in the number of egg and sperm donors. We have overcome the shortage of donated eggs in the UK through the introduction of our Egg Sharing programme, but the supply of donor sperm in the UK has been so significantly affected that most of our clients find that are either unsuccessful in acquiring donor sperm, have a very limited choice or have to import donor sperm from abroad.
To make donor sperm more readily available to our infertile couples, single women and gay couples, we introduced a Sperm Sharing programme, which works in the same way as our very successful Egg Sharing programme. A healthy male with normal sperm parameters can donate samples to help others requiring donor sperm to create their own families, and in return receive fertility treatment at no cost for his partner in return. This excludes the HFEA fee, any embryo freezing, or ICSI procedure.
Am I eligible to use the sperm sharing scheme?
We are very happy to discuss the possibility of sperm sharing with men between the ages of 18 and 41 whose sperm parameters are normal. If you are interested in the scheme you will need to discuss it with one of our Fertility Consultants and complete a sperm donor health questionnaire. If you have already had your sperm analysis done, we may be able to advise you immediately whether you are eligible.
Why do I need counselling?
We insist that anyone who volunteers to take part in our Sperm Sharing programme sees our independent counsellor, who will discuss with you and your partner all the implications you need to consider before donating your sperm. These sessions are free of charge. The counselling is particularly important because of the HFEA’s ruling since 2005, that all donors of either sperm or eggs be identifiable and contactable by any children born as a result of their donation if they so wish once they have turned 18.
As a patient, you may already have or are scheduled to have screening tests for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. To be a sperm sharer you are required to have a number of additional screening tests so we can be sure our recipients will be safe.
On providing your last semen sample for donation your sperm will be placed in quarantine for 30 days. After this time you will need to retake some of the screening tests. This is because although your first tests were negative, you may have acquired an infection which had not yet shown up in the screening tests as with HIV. Leaving the samples for 30 days and rescreening allows us to confirm that you are indeed free from any infection. If all your tests are negative then your sperm will be made available for our patients to choose from and begin their treatment journeys.
How many sperm samples do I need to provide?
You will need to provide us with a sperm sample for assessment and, if you meet the criteria to become a sperm sharer, you will then be asked to produce approximately 10 samples over a 12 week period. Samples must have been banked before your own treatment cycle with your partner is completed. At your first appointment, you will complete and sign some consent forms as part of the registration process to our regulatory body, the HFEA.
Sperm donation does require a commitment from you to attend the clinic for a number of visits, so you must consider carefully whether this is definitely something you want to do, as well as how convenient it is for you to make the necessary visits.
All sperm samples must be banked and released from the 30-day quarantine before you start your own treatment cycle with your partner.
Can I restrict how my sperm is used?
UK law sets a legal maximum of ten families who can benefit from your sperm donation, but you can restrict that number further if you wish. You can withdraw your consent at any time if you change your mind, but it’s important to note that if you do, you are liable for all screening costs incurred during your donation and the cost of your own family’s treatment cycle, including the cost of drugs.
Who will have information about my donation?
Our staff are bound by confidentially in all matters of fertility treatments at the Centre. Information of your donation will be held by the HFEA. You will be recorded as a sperm donor on the HFEA’s register and any patient using your sperm will have their treatment and any resulting outcome recorded as well.
For more information about becoming a donor visit www.hfea.gov.uk.
When can we begin our own fertility treatment?
You will be able to begin your fertility treatment when the 30 day quarantine period is complete and your donations, usually 10, have been released for use. If you wish to commence treatment immediately, you can do so by paying for your treatment. The cost of your treatment will be refunded to you once your quarantine is complete and your rescreening test results are normal.
Find out more
For more information on sperm sharing, please contact our donation coordinator by calling Sarah on 01992 78 50 65 or email Sarah.Robinson@hertsandessexfertility.com.
Or, you can complete our online Sperm and Egg Sharing Donor Health Questionnaire to allow us to assess your suitability to become a sperm share donor – please return to Sarah.Robinson@hertsandessexfertility.com .