How ‘safe’ is donor sperm? The Guardian recently ran an article examining the issue of genetic screening and sperm donation, with particular focus on cases abroad in countries like the USA, where sperm donors had subsequently been found to have genetic health disorders.
So should you be concerned about the health of your sperm donor if you need donor sperm to have a baby?
Joanne Adams, our Donor Bank Manager, answers your FAQs about the screening of our sperm donors and the reassurance of using sperm from HFEA-registered donors through a licensed clinic:
Are Manchester Fertility sperm donors genetically assessed?
Every sperm donor who applies to Manchester Fertility sees one of our consultants for a thorough medical review at the very start of the application process, which includes assessment for any conditions that may have a genetic link. This involves examining his family medical history as far back as grandparents, to see if there are any obvious or patterns of medical conditions that may suggest a genetic link.
What if a sperm donor has an existing medical condition?
If a potential sperm donor is on regular medication for a medical condition or has a history of a condition, we always seek clarification from the GP as to the nature of the condition, before accepting the applicant into our sperm donor programme.
What genetic and health screening do Manchester Fertility sperm donors receive?
Genetic screening is performed for every sperm donor who applies to us. We screen for common conditions: Cystic Fibrosis, a Karyotype and a haemoglobinopathy to check for blood-related hereditary conditions such as Sickle Cell Anaemia and Tay Sachs. All sperm donors are also screened for infectious diseases including HIV and Hepatitis B and C; all tests we carry out are in accordance with the HFEA’s strict screening guidelines.
Can’t a sperm donor just withhold health information?
Every Manchester Fertility sperm donor signs a declaration stating that they accept responsibility for the information they provide to us, and that they understand that if they fail to declare anything relevant, they are legally liable and could be personally sued for misinformation. The implications of this declaration is carefully explained to potential donors by our team, along with the importance of the consent forms they must complete to become sperm donors with us.
Aren’t some men donating sperm just to make money?
In some countries like the USA, it’s very tempting for men to withhold vital health information in order to pass the screening process to be sperm donors, because clinics offer such high financial reward for donating.
But in the UK, sperm donors receive set compensation of £35 per donation only. The HFEA set this amount to ensure that sperm donation remains an altruistic act, removing the risk of deception driven by the financial gain of becoming a sperm donor.
Shouldn’t every sperm donor be thoroughly genetically-screened?
There are already so few men – around one in ten - who have the sperm quality necessary to become sperm donors. Detailed genetic screening designed to identify any variation from ‘perfect’ genes would potentially mean that even they would not be accepted, and there being no sperm donors at all.
The current conditions we screen for, along with the medical assessment, sperm donor’s declaration and compensation levels, ensure that donor sperm from our HFEA-registered sperm donors is safe for you to use.
Last updated: 16th April 2021