Starting a family is not easy for single women and same-sex (lesbian) couples, as the challenges begin even before conception. IVF or DST (donor sperm treatment) are also sought by heterosexual couples who want to avoid passing genetic diseases to their children or have fertility-related issues. This is where donors make a tremendous difference.
While the act of donating sperm so that others may have a family is selfless, it is not a medical transaction that ends with the donation.
Sperm donation comes with challenges. Many people battle with the psychological implications—what it means to be a sperm donor, the responsibilities or expectations that may come with the role, rights of the donor, etc., which is why by UK law, clinics have to offer counselling to donors.
In this article, we’ll discuss essential questions sperm donors should speak about during their counselling sessions. We’ve also provided basic information about the sperm donation process.
Questions Sperm Donors Must Ask During Counselling
Whether you’ve been approached by friends or are planning on donating to a sperm bank, you need counselling assistance to help you navigate this challenging time. Not only will you learn more about your rights and responsibilities through counselling sessions, but you will also get a better understanding of the short and long-term consequences of your decision.
This is why counselling starts at an early stage and continues throughout the sperm donation process.
You do not have to visit the counsellor’s office; you can even do it online. The counselling sessions are private though you can include your partner or a family member during some sessions.
During your counselling sessions, you can discuss these important questions to gain better clarity about sperm donation and be mentally more prepared for what’s to come:
- How does it make you feel to know that someone will use your sperm to have a child?
- What are your rights as a sperm donor since you have a genetic link with the child? How do you feel about not being a legal guardian or having any kind of financial responsibility?
- Do you have concerns about not having any contact with the child who will be conceived using your sperm?
- Are you comfortable with not knowing the identity of the parent(s) who will be using your sperm for the insemination process?
- What are your legal responsibilities when it comes to taking care of the child?
- Are you aware that individuals who will be using your sperm could be single women, same-sex couples, or even heterosexual couples who have trouble conceiving on their own due to fertility issues?
- Is there a possibility that your thoughts about sperm donation may change in the future?
- How would you feel if the donor-conceived child wishes to get in touch with you in the future?
- Do you have any specific questions about the sperm donation process?
- Are your family members comfortable with you wanting to become a sperm donor?
- Do you have any fears or concerns about becoming a sperm donor?
- Will you have indefinite access to free counselling through the sperm bank you’re associated with?
- What type of medical tests will you have to undergo before you begin the process of sperm donation?
- What kind of compensation will you receive for your sperm donation in the UK? Will the sperm bank cover your travel expenses?
- Will you have to undergo a semen analysis, and why is that necessary?
- What type of health tests will the sperm bank conduct before you become a sperm donor?
- How will you know if someone has used your sperm for insemination?
- Do you have the freedom to donate your sperm anonymously?
- What will happen to your sperm once you’ve donated it to the sperm bank?
- How often can you donate your sperm to the sperm bank?
Everything You Need To Know As A Sperm Donor
Sperm donation is free in the UK. However, donors can expect to be compensated for travel or childcare expenses. Beyond this, any other payment is considered illegal.
To qualify as a sperm donor, you must
- Be between the ages of 18 and 45
- Be willing to be tested for medical conditions
- Be familiar with your family’s medical history
- Be in good health and have no family history of serious hereditary disorders
- Be willing to donate multiple times over a six-month period
- Avoid risky sexual behaviours
- Be registered with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)
Certain factors will prevent you from qualifying as a sperm donor. These include:
- Have a history of alcohol or drug dependency
- Excessive weight
- Tattoos or piercings in six months before becoming a donor
- Low sperm quality or the count
What you should consider:
In 2005, sperm donation anonymity laws in the UK changed. Earlier, a sperm donor’s identity was not shared with the recipient and the donor-conceived child. However, the new rules state that when the donor-conceived child reaches the age of 18, they can contact the HEFA to learn about the donor.
While you’re in the middle of getting all the tests done and filling out forms, counselling may seem like the least important thing on your list of things to do. But it’s vital to remember that donating sperm can bring up emotions you hadn’t considered earlier, and the decision can affect your personal or marital life several years later.
Sperm donation can also affect your mental health if you do not fully understand what it means to be a sperm donor.
Counselling is a wonderful tool that can help you make an informed decision about sperm donation. It can also help you find the best way to express your intention to your friends and family who may be curious or unhappy about your decision to become a sperm donor.
Steps Involved In The Sperm Donation Process
When responding to advertisements issued by sperm banks or fertility clinics for sperm donors, remember to do your due diligence about the establishment and ask lots of questions during your first meeting with an official representative.
If you’re curious about the steps involved in the sperm donation process, here’s everything you need to know about the overall process:
- Go through the clinic’s website and fill out the online application form.
- Visit the clinic for a formal get-to-know-you conversation and to give a semen sample for analysis.
- After your sample has been approved, you’ll be expected to meet a medical professional so that they can go through your medical history and perform more tests. This is when the counselling process will also begin.
- Get a list of dos and don’t from the clinic
- Be prepared to donate sperm several times over a few weeks
- Once your sperm donor profile is complete, people will have the option to choose your donor sample for insemination.
- Your sperm samples will be sent to these individuals to complete the insemination process.
Questions That Couples Or Individuals Must Ask Themselves When Using A Sperm Donor
Agreeing to use a sperm donor isn’t an easy decision for single women or couples (heterosexual or lesbians.) This is why they must receive counselling as well. Some of the questions that individuals or couples who are planning to use a sperm donor must ask themselves include:
- How do you and your partner feel about using a sperm donor?
- How will this decision impact your ties with your family and close friends?
- What are some of your fears around your decision to use a sperm donor?
- Do you feel that you must tell your child about the sperm donor? If so, what is the right age for you to tell your child?
- Are you planning to attend regular counselling during and after the insemination process?
- Have you approached a clinic, or do you prefer home insemination?
- What question do you have about the sperm donor sample that you’ve chosen?
- How much does it cost to get a sperm donor?
- What are some of the risks involved with using a sperm donor?
Sperm donation is a way to help couples and individuals become parents. Even if you aren’t 100% sure that you want to become a sperm donor, there are plenty of online resources that can help you understand the sperm donation process in greater detail. You can also visit a sperm bank near you and speak to a representative about your specific concerns.
Once you do decide to become a sperm donor, with regular therapy and counselling, there’s a greater possibility that the entire sperm donation process will go smoothly, and it will be a gratifying experience for all people involved.
We hope this article has helped you learn about the sperm donation experience and given you insight into what to expect during and after the sperm donation process.