Understanding sperm donation in Australia
From same-sex and LGBTQ+ couples to couples experiencing male fertility issues or single women looking to fall pregnant. There are many reasons people might consider sperm donation for conception.
Sperm donation is a growing need in Australia with more and more people looking to start a family with the demand often outweighing the current supply. This means those hoping to access donor sperm often have to go on a waiting list.
How does sperm donation work?
Unless you are receiving sperm from a known party you will typically be in contact with an IVF clinic that can provide access to a donation register or program. Donors are often recruited from both Australia and overseas.
Sperm can either be donated by a known party, often a friend or family member and is referred to as an identified donation. Otherwise, the donation will be from a de-identified sperm donor and will be sourced anonymously via an IVF clinic.
De-identified donors do not need to provide identification to the recipient, however, they do need to provide family medical history, undergo a medical and psychological evaluation as well as a donor profile, with details such as appearance, personality traits, education. They can also state if they are open to contact.
Once the child turns 18 they will be eligible to access the donor’s identification, this includes name, date of birth, and address. Some states have a central registry that stores this information, others will be kept via the clinic.
What is the screening process or sperm donation like?
Donors cannot be under the age of 18 and it is generally advised that they be no older than 50. The legislation varies from state to state on how many times a person can donate but typically this is no more than 10 times.
Health-wise, candidates must undergo testing and those who have health or medical conditions such as genetic disorders that may be passed on to children are not eligible to donate.
If you are using a de-identified donor it is important to understand the clinic’s screening tests, to be sure they are being properly screened and tested. Many clinics will offer a re-screening which means they hold the sperm for a period of time and re-test it before allowing it for use.
Most clinics will also require all donors to complete 1-2 counselling sessions before donation.
What does sperm donation cost?
In Australia, it is illegal to accept payment for any human tissue – and this includes sperm. You can however cover costs incurred by the donor including travel costs and medical expenses.
How is donor sperm used to conceive?
Donor sperm can either be used via artificial insemination which involves inserting the semen through the cervix and uterus around the time of ovulation.
This procedure is often performed in conjunction with fertility medication to provide a higher chance of success by encouraging egg release.
In some cases, IVF will be used to insert the sperm into the woman’s eggs by an embryologist where they will be placed in an incubator in the hopes of forming healthy embryos. Healthy embryos can then be implanted in the uterus in the hopes of pregnancy taking place.
IVF typically has a higher chance of success than artificial insemination, however, your doctor will take your personal situation into consideration when determining the best course of action.
Does a sperm donor have any rights regarding the child?
A de-identified donor will not be listed on the child’s birth certificate and the child will be listed as the child of the birth mother.
Legislation surrounding identified sperm donation varies and proper legal advice should be sought in relation to personal circumstances to clarify any questions around expectations and access to the child. It is advised you have a clear legal agreement in place before undergoing sperm donation with someone you know.
Sperm donation provides singles and couples with the ability to start a family that they might not have had otherwise. It is a wonderful way for many parents to be able to start the family they have always dreamed of.
If you are thinking about looking into sperm donation you should speak with your doctor or IVF clinic about options for donations in your state and the process involved in relation to your specific situation.
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