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During fertility treatment, it may be necessary to use a sperm donation. For some couples, this is the only way to fulfil their dream of having children. This may be the case, for example, if a man
• does not have any sperm either in his ejaculate or in his testes, or
• has a genetic illness.
Whilst the man is not the child’s genetic father if fertilisation takes place in his partner through sperm donation, he does take on the social fatherhood role. As a result, in cooperation with the mother, he has the same rights and obligations towards the child as a father who is the biological father of his partner’s child.
The sperm donations usually come from a sperm bank, in which they are usually stored frozen (cryopreservation).
The sperm donors are very carefully selected by the sperm banks beforehand. For example, they must be
• between 18 and 38 years old,
• completely healthy both physically and mentally – so they must not have any infectious diseases or hereditary illnesses in the family – and
• have an optimal sperm quality as well as a high sperm count.
The sperm donors receive compensation for their donations.
Sperm donors are very thoroughly investigated. Even being accepted as a sperm donor requires extensive sperm, blood and urine tests.
In addition to the usual determination of the sperm parameters, blood, sperm and urine samples from the donor are also tested for infectious and sexually transmitted diseases each time a donation is made. If the sperm quality meets the WHO guidelines for sperm donors, the sperm are then frozen (cryopreservation).
However, donor samples are kept in quarantine for 6 months before being released for fertilisation. After 180 days of quarantine, a blood sample from the donor is tested for infectious and sexually transmitted diseases again, and the samples are finally released for sale if the serology is normal.
A couple that want a child must first be informed by a doctor with regard to the medical, legal and social issues in relation to sperm donation. The couple then conclude a written agreement with the doctor. This governs the rights and obligations of all parties involved.
In addition, a notarised contract is often concluded, which primarily protects the rights of the child born as a result of this fertilisation.
A written agreement is also concluded with the sperm bank.
Couples undergoing fertility treatment can then select the appropriate sperm donor according to various criteria – including:
The couples can usually look at the sperm banks’ online catalogues for themselves to find a sperm donor with the desired characteristics. Alternatively, the sperm banks can select the appropriate donor if desired.
The woman’s eggs are fertilised with the donated sperm. This is done either through
The method used should be clarified with the doctor.
The risks of sperm donation will be explained to you individually by a doctor as part of your consultation. For women, however, the risks of insemination as well as IVF and ICSI are essentially the same as if her eggs were fertilised by her partner’s sperm. Possible infection risks are largely avoided with the measures mentioned above.
In contrast to egg donation, fertility treatment using a sperm donor is legally permitted in Germany.
Health insurance companies do not pay for fertility treatment using donor sperm.