If you’ve seen the movie “The Kids Are All Right,” you know that anonymous sperm donation might not stay anonymous once the children reach majority age. This is more true than ever, thanks to websites like 23andMe® that find your biological relatives through a DNA sample. When you become a sperm donor, you’re not just making a quick buck for an activity you’d happily engage in anyway; you’re potentially creating new lives that could have an impact on your own life down the road.
The expert OB/GYNs and medical professionals at Columbia Fertility Associates in Washington, DC; Bethesda, Maryland; and Arlington, Virginia, want to ensure that you’re right for sperm donation and that sperm donation’s right for you. That’s why you have to be tested for each donation, and why they want you to understand the implication of potentially creating one or more new lives.
You have to be young and healthy
Just as women’s eggs degrade over time, men produce fewer sperm and may produce lower-quality sperm as they age. At Columbia Fertility Associates, you have to be between the ages of 18-39 to qualify as a sperm donor.
You also have to undergo a series of tests to be sure you’re free of diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You’re asked to provide a urine sample on the premises, and we take blood samples and test them to be sure you’re infection-free and that your organs are functioning optimally.
Our doctor also conducts a thorough physical examination. If you become a frequent donor, you might not have to undergo a physical exam each time you donate, but you still must provide blood and urine samples.
Your sperm have to be healthy
In addition to testing your blood and urine, we need to test your sperm. You provide a sample at the clinic, which we then examine in the lab. Healthy sperm are:
- Plentiful — about 15 million per milliliter of semen
- Active — at least 40% must be motile (moving around)
- Normally shaped — most sperm should have an oval head and a long tail
If you don’t have healthy sperm, our doctors can recommend lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthier diet and staying active, that could improve your sperm quality. You might be able to donate later, if you improve your sperm health.
You have to have healthy genes
One of the blood samples we take is tested for the presence of genetic disorders. If you’re a carrier for a genetic disease, you won’t be able to donate sperm.
We also ask for details of your family medical history going back for two generations. You’re disqualified as a donor if anyone in your biological family has a disorder that can be inherited.
You must be mentally healthy, too
In addition to physical tests and blood tests, you must undergo a psychological evaluation. At this time, our doctors discuss the sperm donation process with you, ask you how you feel about your biological children contacting you some day, and how you’re going to share information about your donations with your present or future family.
We need to know your business
When a woman, man, or couple decides to use a sperm donor to have a child, they usually look for key characteristics that match their own profile or their partner’s profile. That’s why we ask you about your education, your hobbies, and your personal interests. We may also request videos, photos, or voice files to share with prospective recipients.
Finally, you have to be willing to honestly share intimate details about your sex life and past or present drug use. If your behaviors are risky for STDs, especially HIV/AIDS, you’re disqualified.
You’re supported all the way
Whether you’re accepted as a donor or not, the donation process and all of the tests and evaluations may feel overwhelming. You might learn new information about yourself that’s potentially upsetting, such as finding out you have a genetic disorder or are a carrier for one. If you’re upset by the donation process or if you’re disqualified for a medical, psychological, or genetic reason, we refer you to a counselor who helps you process the information and move on with your life.