Are You a Viable Sperm Donor?
Surrogacy overseas often requires that the Intended Father is genetically related to the baby. The surrogate mother is often considered the legal mother, so the genetic father has the responsibility to register the child’s birth, apply for the child’s citizenship and travel documents. All of this is only possible if the sperm donor is also the Intended Father of the baby.
One Note: A surrogacy procedure overseas is not possible if an unknown sperm donor is used to conceive the embryos.
If you are a same-sex couple, decide who will provide the sperm. One partner may provide all the sperm, or a gay couple may choose to divide the eggs and have half fertilized by each partner. In this case, one embryo from each partner would be implanted into one of two surrogates.
It is no longer possible for one surrogate to be implanted with embryos from two different sperm donors. This was briefly an option for gay male parents in the United States some years ago, but now clinics have been strongly advised against multiple embryo transfers by the ASRM becasue of high risks of premature birth and complication with twins pregnancies. To have embryos from each father implanted, the couple will need to hire two different surrogates. (Fortunately in overseas clinics two surrogates is still a much more affordable solution than only one surrogate the United States, and the likelihood of successfully having “twins” is higher.)
Anyone providing sperm will need a physical exam, medical history and sperm analysis. These tests need to be recent, generally performed within 3 months of your sperm donation. You can improve the quality of your sperm sample with some simple lifestyle choices, which you read about in the Surrogacy Guide.
What medical tests are required for the sperm donor?
Before any sperm donation, the surrogacy clinic will need both a standard blood test and semen analysis for the genetic father. All reputable clinics will require these tests, although the specifics of the test may vary.
If you will have your surrogacy program in the United States, these blood tests for the sperm donor must be done at an FDA accredited lab within the United States.
The blood test should include a scan for infectious diseases, including Hepatitis B and C, HIV, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and other STDs. The semen analysis is standard, and should include % of normal/abnormal morphology and % of normal/rapid motility. Men with a poor semen analysis can often improve their results with some simple over-the-counter supplements.
If your blood test shows positive for Hepatitis or HIV, the clinic may suggest a process of sperm washing to enable you to donate. Sperm washing effectively removes any infectious material from the sperm before the sample is frozen and used for IVF.
How to know if you have a defect in sperm quality?
Intended Fathers who suspect they have have poor sperm quality can have a sperm fragmentation test. This test flags possible problems with sperm DNA before to the IVF procedure. Intended Mothers who want to donate their own eggs require a series of blood hormone tests, and should also consider an Ovarian ultrasound scan to visibly see the number of available follicles ready to donate. To boost the likelihood of a successful donation, the mother can take a variety of over-the-counter supplements (starting long before egg donation), as well as the fertility medication required as part of the donation procedure to prepare for her surrogacy procedure to follow.
For couples with a long history of failed embryo transfers and miscarriages, there is often a defect with the embryos which probably originated with one of the donors. Your IVF doctor will likely recommend an egg donor, but parents should also consider the possibility that the sperm donor has some issue, and thus run a full fragmentation (and/or karyotype) analysis of a sperm sample to determine if there is a possible problem there as well.
Although a sperm sample may appear normal under standard semen analysis, a karyotype analysis is more profound and will detect issues that are hidden from standard tests. There are 46 chromosomes, and a karyotype analysis will show if the shape or size of one or more chromosomes is abnormal, or if any chromosome pair may be broken or incorrectly separated. Several studies show that misshaped or incomplete chromosomes are responsible for up to 75% of all failed pregnancies or miscarriages.
An alternative would be to run a chromosomal analysis (PGD/PGS) of the embryos after the IVF program is complete. The decision to perform PGD/PGS is a bit complicated, and you can learn more in this article in the Guide.
Over the counter sperm treatments
Sperm donors can improve the quality of their sperm by taking some over-the-counter supplements. Researches found that men who consumed 5 mg of folic acid and 66 mg of zinc sulfate a day for 26 weeks experienced an almost 75 percent increase in sperm count. (Folic acid and zinc sulfate are critical in the formation of DNA.) Vitamin C and selenium may also be good supplements to take in order to increase sperm production.
Some foods are recommended by doctors for people wanting to make their sperm stronger. Walnuts contain zinc, which improves the process of testosterone, and help get better sperm motility. Other recommended foods for zinc intake are bananas and almonds. Oranges and strawberries help people get rid of sperm malfunctioning and shield the DNA from being damaged. Food rich in Vitamin E, like spinach, butter, etc also helps in improving the fertilization rate and boosting the sperm quality. The swimming sperm is particularly well boosted by a healthy Vitamin D intake. Junk food should be avoided at all costs.
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