Anonymity, Clinic Visits, and a Plastic Cup: What’s It Really Like Being a Sperm Donor?
Author: London Sperm Bank
The rise of same-sex parenting, heterosexual couples experiencing infertility, and solo parents who embark on their parenting journeys alone, has meant that the ways in which people go about creating their families have changed over the years.
As a result, there is an increasing number of people using donor sperm in order to create their dream families.
And London Sperm Bank is actively recruiting new donors every week in order to keep up with this demand.
The average man likely hasn’t considered sperm donation before. Sometimes, there can be a needless stigma surrounding donating sperm, or a hesitancy to donate because you’re not sure what the process entails.
That’s why London Sperm Bank spoke to four of our generous donors, to provide an insight into the donation process for those considering to become a sperm donor. From visits to the clinic, to concerns about anonymity, and even telling your friends and family; our donors describe what exactly you should expect when donating sperm.
Making the decision to donate
Consistently we see that our donors are motivated by altruism and a desire to help someone create their family.
For Jonathan*, he was compelled to donate after watching his sister struggle with her fertility. “My sister had two children with the help of a donor. My nephew and niece have brought a lot of joy to our family, and I wanted to do a small part to help others experience something like that joy.”
Some of our other donors were surprised to find that their families were accepting of their decision to become a sperm donor. “My partner was very supportive of the fact it was something I wanted to do” explained Kyle*. “I think that, if it’s something you want to do, don’t let people bring you down. If they aren’t supportive of your decision just don’t discuss it with them.”
Whilst people who become a sperm donor are compensated £35 per donation, as per HFEA guidelines, London Sperm Bank finds that very few people donate for financial gain. Given the requirement to regularly donate and the level of commitment needed to complete the programme, people who are donating sperm are typically either motivated by the desire to perform a good deed, or to leave a legacy.
The first visit to the clinic
For some of our other donors, however, it is the initial visit to the clinic that can be the most daunting. Despite a desire and willingness to help, some donors still experience embarrassment when it comes to their first visit to London Sperm Bank.
“I was pretty nervous going to my first appointment because I knew I’d have to donate my sample and look someone in the eye immediately afterwards,” explained Adam*.
But for all of our donors, the environment of the clinic and the friendliness of the staff immediately made them more comfortable.
“From the moment I went in,” continued Adam*, “the staff put me at ease instantly, and it all went smoothly and more comfortably than I had expected.”
“I haven’t experienced the best aspect of donating yet, but I know I will get that feeling when I finally know or discover someone has successfully used my donation for good and it’s brought them joy.”
People who become a sperm donor at London Sperm Bank must be prepared to visit the clinic regularly for a period of several months in order to complete the programme. HFEA guidelines state that a donor’s sperm can only be used to help create 10 families and that in order to fulfil this requirement, around 50 amps is usually needed.
Firstly, however, applicants must pass the testing process that checks the quality and health of the sperm. Once this is done and they are accepted onto the programme, donors are asked to abstain from sexual activity for a minimum of 2 days prior to their visits so that their samples are of high quality. Depending on how much each donor produces per visit, donors can expect to be a part of the programme for several months and therefore get to know the clinic staff quite well.
For Jonathan*, this was no issue, as he soon built a friendship with the staff who would chat to him about his day. “After a while, I got used to the routine, and I appreciated the staff’s respect of my privacy, as well as their interest in my son who was very young at that time.”
Kyle* even came to look forward to his visits. “I quite enjoyed the routine of it. After observing abstinence for 3-5 days before each donation I actually started looking forward to my Friday morning trips quite a lot. My donor recruitment coordinator was very kind, friendly, and open, and it’s a great environment to be involved with.”
For the staff at London Sperm Bank, we do our best to make our donors feel as comfortable and at ease as possible. We understand that donors may initially feel embarrassed when coming to the clinic, but they soon realize that the value of what they’re doing far outweighs any nervousness.
A message to people considering donating
When asked about their overall experience donating sperm at London Sperm Bank, and the advice that they would give to those considering donating, our donors all mentioned the need to consider the future and the possibility of being contacted by someone who was conceived from your donation.
Jonathan’s* advice to potential donors was to “ask if you are willing to make a commitment and go through with it, and potentially somebody getting in touch 18 or 20 years later who was conceived as a result of that donation.”
HFEA guidelines state that donors remain anonymous to those purchasing the sperm. However, any donor-conceived child can reach out to the HFEA and ask for information about their donor once they reach the age of 18. This includes a full name, date of birth, town or district of birth and last known address.
But for some of our donors, this was something that they are looking forward to.
“I haven’t experienced the best aspect of donating yet, but I know I will get that feeling when I finally know or discover someone has successfully used my donation for good and it’s brought them joy,” said Kyle*. “This is the end goal I’d like to hear. And maybe some years down the line or in future I get to meet them.”
In fact, it seems that the HFEA guidelines about donor anonymity and legality are one of the most appealing factors about becoming a sperm donor. All sperm donors are protected thanks to the HFEA guidelines, meaning that they are not legally, financially, or morally responsible for any child conceived from their donation. This allows our donors to freely donate without concern about future obligations.
*All names have been changed to protect the identity of our donors.
Sperm donation is a generous act, and one that can completely transform the life of someone who has struggled or faced obstacles to have a child. If you are considering donating your sperm and have any questions about the process or what it entails, contact a friendly member of our recruitment team to find out more!