A few good sperms - All you wanted to know about semen banking

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Sperm banking is technically storing your semen, more specifically the sperms for future use. It involves storing semen with the help of extremely cold temperatures, a process called as cryopreservation. The semen can be stored for several years and the sperms can be collected for use when required.

The Bollywood film Vicky Donor has done what years of counseling and awareness programmes could not achieve. In a country like ours, with majority of the people having an orthodox mindset, Vicky Donor has targeted the youngsters who are the most impressionable and taught the importance and benefits of sperm donation like nothing else could!

The reason why one may decide to store his sperms may be varied.

  1. If the male partner/husband decides to undergo vasectomy, he may choose to preserve his sperms. This will be helpful if he decides to have more children at a later stage.
  2. Men suffering from cancer undergo harsh treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy which can have a disastrous effect on the sperms. The sperms are affected and they become unhealthy. Such men may choose to preserve their sperms for use after the treatment is complete.
  3. It may so happen in the case of a couple wanting to opt for in-vitro fertilization or intra-uterine insemination, that the husband is not available during the time of the wife’s ovulation. It may be because he might have a job that needs him to travel extensively. In such cases, the sperms are preserved and implanted on the right day into the wife’s womb. The husband’s presence need not be mandatory for it.
  4. At times, men suffer from performance activity. In such cases, there may be a lack of erection with resultant absence of semen and sperms. This is a well foreseen but unwanted complication in couples who are undergoing in-vitro fertilization, especially in cases of male infertility. To avoid such happenings, the sperms can be stored beforehand, leaving no scope for an event like this to occur.
  5. One may donate his sperm for use by needy couples. Such persons are called sperm donors.

Sperm Donation:

Sperm donation is on the rise today. In countries like the UK, the demand is in fact more than the supply. Sperm donation is a boon for couples in whom male infertility is the cause for the lady not being able to conceive. Sperm donation is also helpful in cases of men who do not want to transmit their diseases to their off springs. Single women who wish to have a child are also increasingly opting for donor sperm insemination. Sperm donation is not a random act. There are several guidelines by the Indian Council of Medical Research [ICMR] that have to be strictly adhered to while sperm banks accept a sperm donation.

The donor has to be not less than 21 years of age and not more than 45 years of age to be eligible. He also has to undergo semen analysis, which has to be found normal. Infectious and hereditary diseases are strictly checked for. The donated sperms are kept in quarantine for a minimum of six months and the donor is also kept under medical surveillance to rule out any hidden diseases [window period] that may come up. The sperms are released for use only after the donor has satisfied all the criteria laid down by the ICMR.

The donor and recipient identities are always, under all circumstances kept confidential.

Using cryopreserved sperms for conception does not lead to any birth defects. In fact, there is 40 to 50% success rate with the use of cryopreserved sperms.

Semen/Sperm Banking needs more and more awareness by the society becoming less orthodox and more accepting. It is indeed a happiness infusing factor in the lives of thousands of infertile couples!