Sperm Donors - Using One, Being One
Using a Sperm Donor
Therapeutic Insemination by Donor (TID) is the use of sperm from a donor in order to achieve a pregnancy and is used primarily when a man is infertile and a couple wants to have a baby. Donor sperm is also used in the case of lesbian couples or single women who want to have babies and is one of several methods of assisted reproduction used to help people realize their dreams of a family.
Although TID is a well-established and accepted method of treatment for male infertility, it can also be a difficult issue for couples. Men who have infertility issues that require donor sperm often have some big emotional and psychological hurdles to leap. Even though the newer methods of assisted reproduction have reduced the need for TID somewhat, some couples feel forced to use TID because the costs of other means of reproduction are too expensive.
It is important for couples to spend the time necessary to assess the emotional, ethical and psychological ramifications of TID for both partners. The husband may feel threatened, isolated, inferior, insecure and jealous. He may question his ability to "play father to another man's child." What compounds this decision for many men is the reality that, if the money were available he could possibly use his own sperm instead of donor sperm.
A woman may encounter an entirely different set of emotions. She may feel some resentment that she has to juggle the emotions of her husband over something that was not her "fault." The fact that she is "bearing another man's child" could become an emotional powder keg and the fact that she probably won't feel comfortable telling anyone about it will limit her social and emotional support system.
Stress on the Couple
Couples who choose TID may feel more psychological impact from using assisted reproduction than those who use other means, such as ICSI, since they are likely inclined to keep the information to themselves. As a result, the social support and encouragement that is such a big part of ART is missing from their experience. This, in turn, puts pressure on their relationship and the pregnancy may turn out to be difficult to cope with for both partners. Thoughts, fantasies and dreams can impact a couple - fears about the baby's normalcy and who or what the baby will look like compound the experience. Many men experience temporary impotency from stress during this period.
It is imperative that a couple talk and communicate and seek counseling to strengthen their position and decision. Although the drive to have a child is often enough, TID is not the same as adoption - it has a lot of challenges that need to be talked about.
Being a Sperm Donor
Conversely, being a sperm donor - while demanding in its own right - does not carry the emotional impact that being a recipient does. Some men donate their sperm for altruistic reasons; they want to help people who want children to realize that desire. Other men do so because they can and, although a man probably won't get rich, the extra money could be attractive. Whatever the reason, men who donate their sperm are doing a service for others. Sperm donation provides a viable option for the millions of people worldwide who wouldn't be able to have a child of their own.
Donor requirements are stringent and, although they may vary slightly from country to country, overall the screening process is similar. You can read more about the qualifications for a donor in the article on this site pertaining especially to that aspect.
The fact of the matter is that, as mentioned earlier, the newer forms of assisted reproduction have made an impact upon the need for donor sperm on one hand, and on the other hand, there is a dearth of donors in countries outside of the US. One of the reasons for this shortage is legislation that has been passed in some countries requiring identity access for people who have used donor sperm. The fear of being hunted down and held responsible by offspring from their donor sperm is causing men to shy away from donating.
Many sperm banks in the US began identification access 15 or 20 years ago. However, non-disclosure has been the practice in other countries until five years ago when the laws changed. As a result, couples and singles are looking to the US to supply the sperm they need for TID. In the UK, infertility groups have warned that Great Britain is on the brink of a "national crisis" and have called on the government to intervene by running a campaign to recruit sperm donors.
Infertility is no respecter of persons. You can learn more about infertility, its causes and how to address it in this section.