Posted: 07 Mar 2016
Author: London Sperm Bank

For many men in the UK, donating sperm is an attractive prospect. Our donors’ reasons for donating differ from person to person, but some who come through our doors misinformed can change their minds when they realise that donating sperm isn’t as simple as having a one-time jolly in a tiny room and getting paid for it.

In reality, it takes on average about 6 months: a donation once (or twice) a week over the course of six months to be exact. Throw in a bit of abstinence, a character questionnaire and a few genetic tests and you’re a closer to the real thing – and that’s not including consideration time, so be sure to have a think!

Now you’re probably wondering why the process takes this amount of time, so let us explain:

Phase One

Before you donate, you’ll need to have abstained from sexual intercourse or masturbation for 3 days. That’s right three whole days (it can prove too difficult for some). We’re not trying to stop you from having fun, it’s just making sure your samples are of the best quality they can possibly be. Too short a period of abstinence can reduce your sperm count, but abstaining for too long compromises sperm motility.

3 days is long enough for you to produce the optimum sample for analysis and give you the best chance of being accepted – we suggest doing a few crosswords to keep any naughty thoughts at bay.

If you’ve successfully completed your abstinence, your first donation will take place in the comfort of our recently refurbished donation rooms. After you’ve collected your sample, you’ll hand it to us and wait for 2 days whilst we analyse your semen sample.

This analysis is to check if your sperm is healthy, i.e: Swimming well (good motility and progression) and in a high concentration – then it’s onto the big test: freezing.

This part is very important as only 5% of the men who apply to be donors have sperm strong enough to survive the freezing process, so you’ve got to be the cream of the crop to make the cut!

If you pass this test then you’ll come back for a few more initial tests to assess your extended health records. We’ll conduct some blood and urine tests, just to make sure you’ve got a clean bill of health free from any hampering genetic or sexually transmittable diseases that might negatively impact a recipient or a child conceived from your sperm.

You’ll also have a meeting with one of our doctors to discuss your medical history in confidence. We want to get a full understanding of your health record as well as provide you with an opportunity to get any questions answered by an experienced medical professional.

It’s not about jumping through hoops, but practically assessing your reproductive health in accordance with HFEA law (the medical body that governs all UK fertility clinics and sperm banks). This stage can provide a confidence boost for many of our donors, as they can find out that both their body and their sperm are in healthy shape, and of course, if there are no issues following this assessment, then you are now eligible to be a sperm donor – so congratulations!

Phase Two

The best donors aren’t just men with virile sperm and flawless medical records, but the ones with the dedication to see the process right through to the finish.

Sperm donation occurs over a six month period where you’ll donate at the bank once or twice a week, and yes, that does include the 3 day abstinence period between each donation – if you’ve got through all your crosswords then makes for an excellent distraction.

The reason for this is because we must collect 100 ampules of your sperm (which on average takes about 6 months). The 100 ampule limit is determined by our staff at the bank, as we believe this is the right amount for the 10 family limit and potential siblings in those families. On average, our donors deposit 4-6 ampules of sperm per visit to the bank, though some of our donors have impressively deposited up to 11 ampules per visit, which makes their donation cycles much shorter.

Sometimes sperm quality can fluctuate between donations, meaning that sometimes your samples aren’t of as suitable quality as your previous donations (this can be for many reasons ranging from a change in diet to a lack of abstinence). So the better your sperm quality and the quantity you can produce determines how long your donation cycle will take.

We Want Guys Who Will See Things Through

As mentioned before, sperm donation isn’t like trading in your old DVDs – it’s something that you’ll be invested in from start to finish.

This blog is about peeling back the myth that sperm donation is a quick, carefree way to sell off gametes you don’t need. It takes time and it takes consideration, it’s why we get the best donors coming to the bank instead of profiteers.

We don’t want donors in it for anything other than the fact that they want to contribute to changing someone else’s life. So how long does it take to donate sperm? Long enough for you to show us you’ve got two qualities that make the best kind of sperm donor: dedication and altruism.

What About The Money?

In the UK, sperm donors are not paid for their donation, however many have to fit the donation process in alongside holidays and work timetables, so for each trip that our donors make to the bank they are compensated a sum of £35 to reasonably cover travel expenses.

According to the HFEA guidelines (the moderating body for sperm banks and fertility clinics in the UK), “payment of donors is prohibited”. The reason for the absence of payment is to discourage the idea of profiteering from sperm donation. The last thing we want is people being insincere about their medical histories in order to make money off a medical process designed to help people dealing with infertility – it’s neither right nor fair.

You’re probably thinking that this factor combined with the time and dedication involved in sperm donation would make donors scarce, but our numbers are increasing every year (and for all the right reasons).

So the answer to, ‘why would anyone donate?’ is simple: because they want to help others who are struggling with infertility; they want to pass on their genes in the name of Darwinism!

Infertility is a problem that affects one in six couples in the UK, many men have the ability to solve their infertility woes by entering a rewarding process that costs nothing. It’s not about ‘getting paid’ for something you can afford to give away, it’s about dedicating yourself to a cause that allows those isolated by infertility to have children of their own with an awareness of the implications of your donation in the long term.

Though it takes 6 months, this act of selfless giving can spread joy tenfold to those who may have lost hope. You’re setting aside some time so that a couple can have a chance at getting the gift that lasts forever: a family – and that should be what guides you.

Yes, it might take altruism and dedication, but it’s how we know that all our donors are the best men for the job: those who are unafraid of commitment and ready to positively change the lives of others.

If you’re that kind of man, then you already know where we are and now you know what to do – so what’s stopping you?