I’m often asked to discuss and talk about the use of Donor Sperm. It’s a really interesting topic and there are a lot of different reasons for people to use it in their aim to start a family.
There are many cases where the man has no sperm or has difficulty getting sperm due to classic disorders like chromosomal disorders of men or disorders like cystic fibrosis where the only option for the commencement of a family is the use of donor sperm.
Other alternatives are same-sex women who have the desire to have a family and single women who are ready to commence a family and choose to do so. All those circumstances have an ability to use donor sperm.
There are two ways to access donor sperm. The first option is for the patient to bring along a known donor to an IVF unit. With a known donor, the processes that the IVF unit guarantees is that the sperm is put in at the right time, it guarantees that the sperm has no infectious disorders and it guarantees that there is no significant medical history from the known donor.
To do this, when the donor gives the IVF unit sperm, it gets frozen and screened for infectious diseases such as Hepatitis, syphilis, HIV, all the things that you would not want transferred. The sperm is then quarantined for six months because that’s the incubation time for some diseases. After that period, the donor is then re-tested for those same disorders. Once it is known that six months down the track the donor has no infectious diseases, then the sperm that was frozen six months ago is now able to be used.
The second way is that throughout the world there are a number of commercial donor sperm units. Through these, we access sperm from America, Europe and Australian donors. Unfortunately in Australia we cannot compensate anyone for their human tissues, and therefore we accept any sperm within limits. This is not the same with international sperm, because in places like America, men can be paid for their sperm, so donors that have poor level sperm can be discarded. This does mean that there is a cost difference in sperm and sperm bought internationally is definitely a higher price.
So, what are the criteria for being able to access sperm? In Queensland and throughout Australia, there is a very specific criteria. The donor and the recipient both need to understand their legal rights and responsibilities. The donor has to undergo counselling and be included in the donor register so that at age 18, the offspring has access to the name of the donor. There must be a record of the number of families and the number of offspring of the donor and in Australia, there is a specific limit of donor families and offspring numbers.
Even if we are accessing sperm internationally, the Australian criteria apply. This means that the American men are under the exact same criteria as Australian men in regard to this.
For the recipients, it is necessary to undergo counselling, they need to understand their rights and responsibilities, what access donors can have and they also need to understand the rights of their offspring. There is counselling relating to the different experiences that previous recipients have had about the biological identity of the sperm. This counselling process is the same for all recipients, although for women in same-sex relationships, both partners would undergo counselling.
The use of donor sperm can then be used with any IVF technology. Be that plain insemination, or used in combination with IVF.
Another question that comes up quite frequently is “who pays for it”? This is probably a difficult position for me because it is a government decision, not mine. The Medicare item number or descriptor for what Medicare will pay for with donor sperm is very specific, and it is for the treatment of infertility. Therefore, in those three different groups of people we mentioned at the start, the heterosexual couple with the male having no sperm would have access to Medicare because that fits into infertility. Unfortunately, the other two groups of same-sex women and a single woman requesting sperm, in the early stage, if there is no other reason, would not have access to Medicare and would have to pay for it out of their own money.
- the use of donor sperm is a common event in today’s society.
- It is an appropriate way to help many people fulfil their dream of a family.
- There’s an easy, set process of doing it.
Accessing donor sperm is straightforward with our IVF unit. We can organize everything you need and hopefully, we can increase your chances of having your family.