Do you think you got that guys? Only four out of 100 potential sperm donors make it. Illnesses, unhealthy lifestyles and poor-quality semen mean that many are disqualified
- Sperm donors must undergo regular screening and testing
- Half of the examined donors in the USA and Denmark withdrew from the procedure
- Some have been deterred by laws identifying donors for future children
- Many are thrown out because of poor sperm quality and health and lifestyle issues
- More than half of the donor sperm used in UK procedures comes from abroad
While many men believe they have sperm donor skills, fewer than four in 100 donors who apply to donate have their samples frozen and used, researchers have found.
A University of Sheffield study of more than 11,700 potential sperm donors found that the overwhelming majority of donors either withdrew from the process or were excluded for health and lifestyle reasons.
The study’s lead author, Professor Allan Pacey, a scholar and department head at Sheffield University, said the largest donor study outside of China showed “how difficult it is to become a sperm donor”.
“It’s not like a blood donation where after you donate you can have a cup of tea and go home,” Pacey said in a statement.
An international study of around 11,700 potential sperm donors found that most either withdrew from the process or were excluded for health and lifestyle reasons
“Sperm donation is a regular commitment, with many screenings and regular testing, and lifelong implications for the donor if children are born from their sample.”
The results, published in the journal Human Reproduction, show that over half of the men (54.9 percent) who applied to be donors at Cryos in the US and Denmark withdrew from the program before their samples could be completed have been released for use.
Another 17.4 percent were rejected due to health issues, including those with a genetic condition or an untreatable infection.
Another 11.7 percent failed a screening questionnaire about their lifestyle; while 11.2 percent were rejected due to poor sperm quality.
Recent data from the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Agency shows that more than half of new sperm donors registered in the UK are from imported sperm, mostly from sperm banks like Cryos in the US and Denmark.
Since 2016 it has been illegal in the UK to use semen from donors who refuse to be identified for their offspring. In the study, researchers looked at how many Cryos donors agreed to be identifiable compared to those who didn’t.
A seed bank from Cryos International. Samples from Group sperm donors in the US and Denmark are widely used in the UK, which imports a large proportion of its samples
A file image of a vacuum flask with liquid nitrogen straws containing frozen embryos and ova at an infertility treatment clinic.
They found that 41.3 percent had initially agreed to be identifiable, with more Danes willing to opt out of anonymity than Americans.
Over the course of the screening and donation process, which lasted several months, additional donors were ready to be identified.
“More donors who initially wished to remain anonymous agreed to be identifiable as the verification and donation process continued,” added Pacey, professor of andrology.
“This is particularly good news for UK patients undergoing fertility treatment, as legislation requires sperm donors to be identifiable for all children born from their donations.”
The study comes as more single women and lesbian couples are turning to sperm banks and fertility treatments, as experts say many women are struggling to find the right man or delaying motherhood to focus on their careers.