By SpermCenter - Posted on September 9th, 2009
Wed, 2009-09-09 18:26 | SpermCenter
How do I know the sperm is safe? By reading the fine print and asking the right questions.
NOTE: This page is intended as an informational guide, not a definitive reference. When selecting a sperm bank, always consult with your physician to ensure the screening performed is appropriate for your medical situation. Please read our disclaimer.
You can use the information on this page as a source for questions to ask your doctor or sperm bank. A good rule of thumb is: never assume anything. Always ask the sperm bank to provide a written explanation of all screening and medical tests performed. If you're not sure, ask!
All sperm banks make their donors undergo a complex screening process to reduce the risk of disease. While each sperm bank differs in the kinds of tests it performs, all the banks test for major diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
This usually includes a six month quarantine or waiting period during which the sperm is set aside so the test can be performed again later (it can take up to six months for HIV to appear). Some banks periodically re-test their donors at regular intervals.
Types of Screening
Initial donor screening typically includes a physical exam, age selection (for example, donors are typically between 18 and 35), staff interviews, psychological profile and so on. Some banks require donors to be attending college; some have special programs recruiting donors with advanced degrees.
Many banks check for undesirable behavior such as excessive drinking or smoking, or behavior considered high risk for sexually transmitted diseases. A typical sperm bank might accept fewer than ten percent of applicants, some even fewer.
Disease testing to minimize the risk that the sperm carries potentially harmful diseases such as HIV/AIDS, syphilis or hepatitis.
These tests can range from simple cell cultures (eg, for Herpes or Chlamydia), to elaborate chromosome testing for genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis. Many sperm banks test for race-specific diseases where appropriate.
For example, sickle-cell anemia can affect people of African descent, so black donors are usually tested for it. Tay-Sachs is a disease that can affect people of Jewish or French Canadian descent.
Quality testing to measure the sperm's viability typically includes measuring the number of sperm cells (sperm count) and their motility, or how active the cells are. The more active the sperm, the more likely it is to fertilize an egg.
Because the list of diseases and tests that sperm banks perform is long, complex and continually changing as they improve their services, we at SpermCenter.com do not attempt to list every test performed by every sperm bank.