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Sperm donation

What is sperm donation?

Sperm donation is a medically assisted reproduction technique that involves using the sperm of a man other than the man involved in the parental project.

This may be because the latter is not able to produce their own sperm, or because there is no man involved in the initial parental project (single woman, female couple).

 

Who is suitable for this type of treatment?

Sperm donation may be indicated:

- When the male partner does not have any sperm cells (azoospermia), too few sperm cells (oligospermia) or when the quality of the sperm cells is too poor (teratospermia) to facilitate a pregnancy, despite access to in vitro fertilisation treatment.

- If the male partner is a carrier of a serious genetic disease that could be passed on to the child if he uses his own sperm.

- For female couples who want a child.

 

Belgian law

Sperm donation is permitted for heterosexual couples, but also for single women and female couples.

Anonymous donation is permitted, as well as donation resulting from a direct agreement between the donor and the prospective parent(s).

The sperm of one donor cannot lead to births in more than 6 different women (or female couples).

It is prohibited to market and sell sperm.

Once completed, sperm donation is irrevocable and the donor has no legal right or obligation to the child.

 

Who are the donors?

- Etiher voluntary anonymous donors who want to help another couple to conceive. Donation is altruistic and donations are not remunerated. They may only receive small compensation for any loss of salary incurred for the time required to complete the donation.

- Or direct donors: most frequently this is from a close friend who will give his sperm directly to a female or a couple, which will later allow the child to know their origins.

 

What examinations do donors undergo?

Anonymous donors must be between 18 abd 45 years old.

They will meet with a paediatric psychiatrist or a psychogologist, and a fertility specialist who will conduct in-depth questioning to verify their motivations, check their medical history, and ensure that there is no risk of transmitting a disease to the child.

A blood test will be taken to detect sexually transmissible diseases, the most common genetic diseases (such as cystic fibrosis) and certain chromosomal abnormalities via a karyotype.

The same tests will be performed in the case of direct donors.

 

Treatment in practice

Sperm donors will produce a sperm sample via masturbation.

The sperm will then be processed in the laboratory and frozen in vials.

They will then be quarantined for the necessary time required to ensure the absence of any STDs.

The sperm that presents the best physical characteristics will be selected for treatment.

If the woman has no fertility problems, the treatment will consists of intra-uterine insemination. At the time of ovulation, the sperm will be thawed and prepared, and then administered into the uterine cavity using a thin catheter.

In certain situations, it may be necessary to resort to in vitro fertilisation (blocked fallopian tubes, severe endometriosis, etc.). In this case, the woman's oocytes will be collected and fertilised in the laboratory with the sperm of the donor.

The embryo(s) formed will then be transferred into the woman's uterus where they can embed and continue to develop.

 

Results

A successful pregnancy during sperm donation varies depending on the age of the patient, potential pathology and the quality of the embryo that will be formed if in vitro fertilisation is used.

 

Possible risks

Pregnancies obtained following sperm donation are no different to a pregnancy obtained following normal sexual relations.

The rates of miscarriage or congenital defects are identical.