What is a Sperm Bank?
A sperm bank is a facility that collects sperm from a sperm donor who is willing to allow his sperm to be used by an individual or couple to help them try to conceive a child. The facility will properly collect and store the sperm until it is needed. Sperm banks in the UK are governed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), who create rules and regulations about the collection, storage and use of sperm donations. These rules are designed to protect the donor and the recipient and to ensure that a healthy baby is conceived.
When an individual or couple decide to use a sperm bank to help them conceive they will be able to look through a wide selection of potential donors. Once a potential donor is selected by the individual or couple, the semen will be tested to ensure that the donor and the recipient are a good match. The woman will also need to undergo a complete physical to ensure that she is healthy enough to carry a baby. Once this initial process is done, the fertilisation is generally completed by a surgical procedure most often in vitro fertilisation.
How are Donors Selected?
Sperm donors must be generally between 18 and 35 with no health or genetic problems. A sperm bank will do a complete background check on the potential donor to ensure the medical and family history is correct. The donor will have some blood tests done to check for things like HIV, syphilis or gonorrhoea. The sperm itself will also be tested to be sure that it is healthy and good for donation. Donated sperm can be held at a sperm bank for between six and twenty-four months and each donor is limited to being able to help conceive for ten couples or individuals.
Who Uses a Sperm Bank?
There are many reasons that an individual or couple would need to use the services of a sperm bank in order to help them conceive.
- The male has a low sperm count problem or has another sperm count problem like erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
- The woman has some fertility problems like an ovulation problem or mild endometriosis.
- The couple has tried unsuccessfully to conceive for many years but have not been able to and the reason is unknown. This is referred to as unexplained infertility.
- The man or woman has a genetic disorder like haemophilia that they do not want to pass it on to the baby.
- The couple has Rhesus incompatibility that would make them unable to have children. Rhesus is found in the red blood cells and people are classified as either Rh positive or Rh negative depending on if rhesus is found in the blood or not. If the couple does not have the same Rh effect that makes them Rhesus incompatible.
- A man who is planning on having a vasectomy but wants to save some sperm back just in case he will want it in the future.
- A single woman who wants to conceive a child on her own.
- A lesbian couple who want to conceive a child for them to raise.