Did you know Australia has been in a sperm donation drought? Due in part to changes in laws and access for many, plus a lack of diversity in options as well as a rise in same sex couples accessing donor sperm for their families.
This month, Melbourne IVF has announced that for the first time in years they have no wait list for donor sperm.
While this is great news for same sex couples needing sperm to have a baby, it’s not a time to get complacent, as there is always a need for diverse sperm, Melbourne IVF fertility specialist at Dr Melissa Cameron told the Star Observer.
“The greatest number of donors we have are Anglo Caucasian but can always do with more diversity. The reason we don’t always get as much diversity can be because of different cultural backgrounds, practises or belief around it. People who are from a non-Anglo background that come to see me want to build a family that is part of their own cultural background.”
For years, many people carried the additional costs of travelling overseas or interstate for treatment. But with the increase of women wanting to access donor sperm, it’s taken a while for the banks to keep up with demand.
“We have gone through stages where there have been waiting lists of 6 months or more, particularly if you were a same sex couple and both wanted to use the sperm,” Dr Cameron said. “For some, the wait could be twelve months.”
“Most of the patients I see have gone through a long thought out process sometime years of thinking about this. There’s nothing worse than then turning up to the clinic and then needing to wait.”
The sperm donor process is quite involved, with extensive counselling before the process starts and medical reviews before the sperm goes into quarantine for three months. And even though donating sperm can help change the lives of a family, many men are still apprehensive when it comes to donation.
“One of the most common fears people have is that they’ll get a knock on the door in 18 years from children that they have never met and how that will affect their life, but that’s simply not the case.” Dr Cameron said, who used a sperm donor to conceive her two children.
“I see a lot of same sex couples return for their second pregnancy, and they are just so grateful. It is completely life altering to have someone donate their sperm so that can create a baby, because for them, it is the only way that they can.”
The main barriers to donating sperm include age and medical reasons, but every potential donor is accessed on a case by case basis. Why not put your sperm to good use, and help a same sex couples family grow.