Sperm Bank and Legal Aspects: All you need to know

Sperm Bank and Legal Aspects: All you need to know

Introduction: Sperm banks have become commonplace now, more than ever before. There are various reasons due to which couples are opting for donor sperms and approaching the sperm banks or the semen banks. One reason is the rise of infertility due to increased stress and lifestyle choices. Sometimes the male partner may have very little or no sperms in their semen (called azoospermia) that may lead a couple to opt for donated sperms. At other times, the male partner may be suffering from cancer and has to undergo chemotherapy, which could make him sterile. Such men may decide to freeze their sperms at a semen bank before starting the chemotherapy. There are also times when the couples live in different cities, and they are unable to be with each other to allow conception. At such times, they preserve the husband’s sperms, and the couple can use that to induce pregnancy, even in the husband’s absence. So sperm banks can help couples have a child by providing the male partner’s frozen sperms or donor’s sperm.

Why we need sperm banks?

1. When there are genetic disorders in men, and there is a risk that they may pass the disease to the newborn, they approach sperm banks.

2. In cases where sperms have to be surgically retrieved due to blockage in the tubal system of testes. In this condition, the retrieved sperms are frozen in a semen bank.

3. There are times when there is no production of sperms in the testes due to testicular failure, then also sperm banks are needed for providing donated sperms, for the couple to have a child.

4. When couples cannot afford the ICSI cycle, they can choose artificial insemination using donor sperm based IUI.

What is a sperm bank:  A sperm bank is a facility where human semen is bought, preserved, and sold.

What is the process that sperm banks follow for sperm donation?

There are specific guidelines that a sperm bank has to follow for sperm donation. Here is an outline of the process that the sperm banks follow:

1. Evaluation of donor on a psychological level: A psychotherapist meets with the donor and talks with him about the psychological and emotional aspects of the sperm donation. The psychotherapist asks the donor various questions to ensure their mental fitness. If there is a partner, then her interview is also taken.

2. Medical History: A qualified doctor then takes the past medical history of the donor and the history of his family, to identify any genetical defect.

3. Medical checkup: The donor then has to undergo a health checkup to know about the body. The donor has to give blood and urine samples for checking about any disease or infections. They check for any infectious or autoimmune diseases, allergies, etc.

4. Semen testing: Before one becomes an official donor, his semen sample is collected and tasted. The sperm motility, count, and shape are noted. The sperm structure should be okay, and 40% of the sperms should be moving.

5. Genetic testing: The blood test is done to determine if the donor has any genetic disorders that can cause life risk to the child. Besides this, the doctors take the family history and check the racial background to learn about the diseases that are specific to certain races only.

6. Sexual and personal history: The person has to tell all the details of his sexual life to date. He is asked about the addictions like smoking, drinking, etc. to check if he is at risk of developing any serious health condition. Besides this, his interests, hobbies, educational background are also recorded. The donor has to give his audio and video recordings as well

.Quarantine Process

If the screening tests come out to be in the normal range, then the samples for sperm donation are collected. After the sample is collected, the bank preserves it through the cryopreservation method in the sperm bank. The collected sample is then kept in quarantine for 6 months.  The donor has to physically come again and give one more sample after 6 months.

At this time, viral investigations and other tests are done again. If he is cleared now, the sample that was quarantined 6 months back is released for donation. A new sample is taken from him and is not kept in quarantine. This process continues. This is to eliminate the risk of viral infections and other infections that may have been caught recently and which may show up in due course only.

Legal aspects of sperm donation in India:

1. Donating sperms is legal in India but only for childless Indian couples.

2. The donor of the sperm can claim no right over the surrogate child.

3. According to the proposed legislation, a semen bank cannot use the sperms of a single donor more than 75 times.

4. Identity of the donor should be absolutely anonymous to the recipient.

5. All records of the donor and the sample should be maintained for 20 years and should be released only if there is a relevant court order.

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