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Donor sperm

During fertility treatment, it may be necessary to use a sperm donation. For some people, this is the only way to fulfil their dream of having children. This may be the case, for example, if: 

a man does not have any sperm either in his ejaculate or in his testes, or

a man has a genetic illness.

a single woman or lesbian couple want to get pregnant

Our donor sperm categorisation: These are your options at the StorkKlinik

Anonymous donor sperm: basic information (eye colour, hair colour, height, weight)

Anonymous plus donor sperm: basis basic information + blood type and occupation/education

Open donor sperm: the same as anonymous plus and with the option to learn the donor’s identity (you should check this yourself with the sperm banks)

The sperm banks are all different, and there may be differences in what they define as identity and whether it will be possible to contact the donor later in the child’s life.

Five important questions about donor selection and having a donor-conceived child

1. Would you like an open, anonymous plus or an anonymous donor?

It is entirely up to you. No decision is better than another one, even if there appears to be an increasing number of women—particularly in Denmark—who are opting for open donors. Our advice is that in the majority of cases whatever feels right for you and your partner will be best for your child. The important thing therefore is to consider the options available to you and decide on that basis.

When we ask single women and lesbian couples about their decision, we can see that most of them choose open donors, particularly in Denmark, where there is a lot of openness about different types of families. It is also to do with the fact that women do not want to restrict the child. Some single women might say: “As I can’t give my child a father, at least I can use an open donor.” We’re also finding that more heterosexual couples are choosing open donors than before due to an increased openness generally in society. 

Others choose an anonymous plus or an anonymous donor, because they want to take responsibility for the child (choose on the child’s behalf) and thus not just pass on/hand over a possible decision to the child regarding finding out more later in life. 

Nowadays, there is also another essential issue that has significance regarding the choice of a donor. Because what does choosing an open donor mean? An open donor is a broad term. The law does not state that the child is entitled to meet the donor on turning 18, but that the child is entitled to know the donor’s identity. This raises another question: What does identity cover? Is it a name, an address or just information about him? We don’t know as the sperm banks offer something different.

We have had open donation since 2007 in Denmark. That means that the oldest donor-conceived child has not yet reached 18. Therefore, we don’t know how the sperm banks will handle this issue. For some people, it is therefore more attractive to select an anonymous plus or an anonymous donor, simply because it is much easier to explain this to the child. The answer is not: “We’ll have to see what you can find out when you are 18”. If an anonymous plus or an anonymous donor is chosen, then we currently know exactly what information the child will get. 

In some cultures (particularly abroad), having a donor-conceived child is frowned on. For that reason, we meet some women and couples who select an anonymous donor because they do not want to give either the child or anyone else details about how the child was conceived.

2. What will you decide yourself, and what will you leave up to the clinic?

One important thing you should consider is: What will you decide yourself? For some people it is really important to be involved in every decision. Some people want a donor with blond hair and blue eyes. Other people are more concerned about having a donor that shares their values, outlook on life and interests. While some people don’t want to have any influence on this decision. 

However, most people have one or more things on their wish list, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. It is important to emphasise though that we cannot give any guarantees. Even if the donor has blue eyes, the clinic will never be able to guarantee that the child will also have blue eyes, etc. 

If the only thing you want is a child with blond hair and blue eyes, then the clinic can select a donor with these features for you. If we are selecting a donor for you, we will not have any more information that you. We do not know the donor; it is the only the sperm banks who deal with donors.

3. What will you do if it transpires that the donor has a hereditary disorder?

We all have genetic abnormalities. This also applies to a donor. Even though the donor will have been screened and tested for several different disorders, naturally we cannot give any guarantees. But generally, the child is better off than most naturally-conceived children, because the donor is screened and tested. In many cases, the donor will typically have previously donated sperm for other children, and we would be informed if, for example, he was in quarantine while investigations were taking place to see if the reported malformation or disorder in a child could be attributed to the donor. 

4. Are you keen to have more than one child?

We’re often asked: “How much donor sperm should I buy?” It is really difficult to advise you about as we can’t know this. However, an important question to consider early in the process is the possibility of having full siblings: “If everything goes well, will you have more than one child? If so, is it important for you to have the same donor?” This, naturally, will have a bearing on the amount you should buy/reserve at the present time, and applies to open, anonymous plus and anonymous donors. 

5. When will you tell your child that they were conceived via a donor? 

What have you actually thought about saying to the child? When will you tell your child? How will you tell your child? When choosing to have a donor-conceived child, we recommend that you think about the child’s story right from the start.

We find that some people take things as they come, other plan what they’re going to say while others like to write a diary from when they first start to consider the process up until they’re holding a baby in their arms. The diary can later become a gift for the child. 

The advantage for lesbian and single women is that the child will certainly ask when they are ready to get an answer. A two-year-old might say: “Where’s my father?” Here it’s just a matter of being ready. When the child is five years old, he/she may ask again. We have met others who tell the children everything from when they’re infants.

And don’t forget … a donor-conceived child is a much longed-for child. They were longed-for way before they were conceived. It’s an option. Their mother has wanted them, as has their co-mother or father. And they were wanted by the donor. It’s a big gift, including being told this later in life!

Three tips if you want to use donor sperm

Midwife Julia Buus Nicholson gives her three top tips for if you want to use donor sperm.

1. Listen to your gut

When you decide on a donor, it should feel right. There is no right or wrong decision here. But if it feels right to you, then it is the right decision. 

2. Openness and honesty are the most important things

The most important thing is that you are honest with your child and that you tell the truth. Tell the truth right from the start, not when they reach the age of 15. All the research shows that it is much easier for the child to handle the truth than to feel that there is a taboo associated with being a donor-conceived child. Single and lesbian women can’t avoid the subject, but for heterosexual couples this is something that should be addressed. 

It’s one thing being honest with your child, but what you tell everyone else is another matter. What does a single woman living, for example, in a small village in Northern Norway with her two-year boy say? Does she change her story depending on what she thinks will be best received: “I was in a relationship with this guy, but it didn’t work out” Or does she say: “I went to Denmark and got donor sperm?” 

If she tells her child and everyone else the truth thereby showing that she is happy with her decision, then the child will feel OK and will realise that there is nothing wrong with being a donor-conceived child.

3. Think about you child 

Also put the child’s needs before your own. Think about how you imagine your child will react as he/she grows up.  

How does fertility treatment with a sperm donation take place?

1. Detailed examination of donor sperm and donor

Sperm donors are very thoroughly investigated. Even being accepted as a sperm donor requires extensive sperm, blood and urine tests.

In addition to the usual determination of the sperm parameters, blood, sperm and urine samples from the donor are also tested for infectious and sexually transmitted diseases each time a donation is made. If the sperm quality meets the WHO guidelines for sperm donors, the sperm are then frozen (cryopreservation). 

However, donor samples are kept in quarantine for 6 months before being released for fertilisation. After 180 days of quarantine, a blood sample from the donor is tested for infectious and sexually transmitted diseases again, and the samples are finally released for sale if the serology is normal. 

2. Contractual obligation

People that want a child must first be informed by a doctor with regard to the medical, legal and social issues in relation to sperm donation. Then they conclude a written agreement with the doctor. This governs the rights and obligations of all parties involved. 

In addition, a notarised contract is often concluded, which primarily protects the rights of the child born as a result of this fertilisation.

A written agreement is also concluded with the sperm bank.

3. Choice of a suitable sperm donor

Couples undergoing fertility treatment can then select the appropriate sperm donor according to various criteria – including:

  • hair colour,
  • eye colour,
  • origin,
  • hair type,
  • blood group,
  • height, and
  • weight.

The couples can usually look at the sperm banks’ online catalogues for themselves to find a sperm donor with the desired characteristics. Alternatively, the sperm banks can select the appropriate donor if desired.

4. Fertilisation of the eggs with the donated sperm

The woman’s eggs are fertilised with the donated sperm. This is done either through

The method used should be clarified with the doctor.

Who does the sperm donation come from?

The sperm donations usually come from a sperm bank, in which they are usually stored frozen (cryopreservation).

The sperm donors are very carefully selected by the sperm banks beforehand. For example, they must be

• between 18 and 38 years old,

• completely healthy both physically and mentally – so they must not have any infectious diseases or hereditary illnesses in the family – and

• have an optimal sperm quality as well as a high sperm count.

The sperm donors receive compensation for their donations.

 

What are the options for sperm donation?

If you are having fertility treatment using donor sperm, there are several options available to you: 

You can let us choose a donor for you based on your wishes regarding eye colour, hair colour and height. We will do our utmost to accommodate your wishes, but we cannot guarantee anything.

You can purchase donor sperm through our clinic based on your wishes regarding eye colour, hair colour and height. You will be guaranteed your wishes, and the sperm will be ready when you come for insemination. You can purchase donor sperm yourself and choose from different characteristics. The following are links to the sperm banks we work with: 

www.europeanspermbank.com

www.cryosinternational.com

www.sellmerdiers.com

Do you have a known sperm donor?

If you would like to use your own or a known donor (who is not a partner) for treatment in VivaNeo, the known donor will be subject to the Danish Health Authority’s practice and legal requirements regarding screening through interview, physical examination and blood tests as well as swabs for certain infectious diseases.

If the known donor has a permanent partner, he/she needs to sign a document stating, that he/she knows, that the sperm of the known donor is being used for fertility treatment.

Risks of sperm donation

The risks of sperm donation will be explained to you individually by a doctor as part of your consultation. For women, however, the risks of insemination as well as IVF and ICSI are essentially the same as if her eggs were fertilised by her partner’s sperm. Possible infection risks are largely avoided with the measures mentioned above.

What is the legal situation in the event of a sperm donation?

In contrast to egg donation, fertility treatment using a sperm donor is legally permitted in Germany.

Health insurance companies do not pay for fertility treatment using donor sperm.

Further topics you might be interested in

hPopular Topics

Sperm analysis

Insemination

IVF

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VivaNeo Stork København

☎ +45 70 60 60 90
copenhagen[at]vivaneo.dk

VivaNeo Ciconia Aarhus
☎ +45 86 27 76 26
aarhus[at]vivaneo.dk

Aalborg
☎ +45 98 14 45 55
faurskov[at]fertilitet-ultralyd.dk

Holbæk
☎ +45 59 44 13 01

Skive
☎ +45 97 51 04 00
mail[at]dr-rolighed.dk



We look forward to hearing from you!