What is Sperm?
Sperm is ejaculated from the male sexual organs during sexual intercourse or self-stimulation (masturbation) and is used in the process of fertilization when making a baby when combined with the female ova (egg). It is the male reproductive cells and is derived from a Greek word meaning seed – sperma. They were first seen believe it or not, as long ago as in 1677 under a microscope by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek who called them little animals or animalcules.
The sperm cell contains relevant information called chromosomes, which make up half of the embryo when fertilization takes place. Each sperm cell holds 23 chromosomes and these divide in a process called mitosis. When the sperm cell meets the female ova (produced by the female ovary) they combine and undergo another process called meiosis. Meaning the female’s egg and the male’s sperm both give 23 chromosomes totaling the 46 chromosomes needed to make a full embryo.
The sperm is shaped similar to a tadpole with a head which holds the information in the cytoplasm known as DNA. This gives all the information that contributes towards the eye colour, hair colour, height, body shape and many other various features that the baby will inherit from the information (DNA) in the tiny, microscopic cell. It’s awesome that such a tiny cell, that can’t even be seen by the human eye, can produce a whole other brand new person. Even an egg is very tiny. What’s even more amazing is that it only takes one sperm cell to fertilize the ova egg. Then very importantly as well, the sperm has a tail called a flagellum. The tails of all the sperm move in a furious manner to get through and up to the egg to enable fertilization. Some men have sperm that lack a tail and this is called a spermatium, this of course means that his sperm cannot swim very well and he is often infertile, but some men have some sperm that are swimmers and some that lack a tail and are non-swimmers. Sperm contains either an X chromosome or a Y chromosome, this determines the sex of the embryo, the X chromosome produces a female and a Y produces a male. Sperm is ejaculated from a male in within a fluid called semen. Semen is alkaline pH in nature and this means that the sperm is not completely mobile until it reaches the female reproductive tract which has an acidic ph.
Why donate sperm?
There are many reasons why a man would donate sperm and there are many reasons why a woman or couple would seek out a sperm donor. A lot of the time this is naturally because the man’s sperm is unviable which means that it cannot fertilize the woman’s egg (ova) and there are a lot of reasons why this is the case.
First of all, the man’s semen could be non-swimmers which means his semen simply lack the tail which moves in a whip-like fashion and gets it up to encounter the egg enabling the fertilization process to happen. If the semen lacks this tail, the sperm simply will not swim and therefore fertilization cannot and will not occur. Some men have a few swimmers, but this makes fertilization hard too, or their sperm cells are simply abnormally shaped – this can cause infertility as well and they may still require a sperm donation.
Another reason why mean may be infertile is due to a disease, if a young boy gets mumps (or adult) this can affect testicles and can therefore later on when he’s an adult, cause problems with his ability to be fertile in the future. Other factors affecting fertility in a man are drug use (excessive use of marijuana and cocaine and other illegal strong drugs), excessive alcohol, obesity; smoking and even underpants that are too tight on a regular basis can cause infertility. Sexual promiscuity and the resulting sexually transmitted diseases that a man may encounter as a result will also affect his sperm quality or testicles and may cause you to be infertile. Naturally, testicular cancer will have a negative affect on sperm quality and different prescribed drugs from your doctor can also have a negative affect on your fertility, but your doctor should advise you about all the side effects of the drugs he prescribes you. Even some medicines used in chemotherapy can seriously affect your fertility levels.
So, to help men and couples who aren’t blessed enough to be have to conceive naturally, men donate sperm in order for the woman’s egg or ova to be fertilized in order for them to have a baby of their own. Sperm can be donated at a sperm bank, fertilization clinic or even under a private arrangement with the receiving woman or couple. You probably will have to undergo some medical tests but these vary from place to place. If you research the different criteria for the different places and what you will have to do, you will find the place that is suited to you.
How does it work?
Once you have decided on the sperm donor and made all the arrangements, whether it’s through a fertility clinic, sperm bank or even under a private arrangement with a sperm donor you have found yourself, you may be wondering how the actual process of the insemination or fertilization actually takes place.
There are a few different ways but the actual procedure involves a using a very flexible, tiny tube to put the sperm into the receiving woman’s vaginal tract. Even some couples that have had problems doing it naturally have had success in using this method. It sometimes, for some reason, can improve the changes of fertilization when the sperm is injected straight into the vaginal tract and perhaps past the cervix with the catheter.
A woman or couple who have undertaken and agreed upon a private arrangement need to purchase a home fertilization kit; these can be purchases easily and at a reasonable price as well. They usually include syringes (to draw up the sperm), sterilized cups (to catch and keep the sperm in) and home ovulation test, so the woman can check when she is at the peak of her fertile period (usually in the middle of her cycle – 14 days after the first day of her last menstrual period), but the tests ensure that the woman is at the very highest fertility time. The sperm is collected from the sperm donor at the recipient’s home in the sterilized cups and drawn up with the syringe and immediately placed into the woman’s vaginal tract. Sperm can live for up to 48 hours, so it doesn’t need to be done immediately but the best results will come about if it is done straight away.
Artificial Insemination (AI) is a process whereby the sperm is placed in the woman’s vaginal tract when she is at her most fertile period (ovulating). The sperm can then travel swim up the tract to fertilize the egg/s. If the sperm fertilizes two eggs you will get un-identical twins and of course, if the egg splits, then you get identical twins.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a bit more invasive or intrusive from the recipient woman’s point of view but can be more successful as using the catheter (thin tube that is flexible) the sperm is placed right up, past the vaginal tract, through the cervix and placed right into the uterus. The sperm can be used from her partner (when he has fertile sperm but they are just bad swimmers) or a sperm donor. This option is quite regularly aided by the use of super-ovulation medicine, which further increases the chance of fertilization.
Going abroad to receive sperm donation
You may find yourself in the situation where you require a sperm donation due to a number of different reasons with your partner’s sperm being unviable. He may have sluggish sperm or he may even just not be able to produce sperm at all, due to an unfortunate disease or due to the side effects of a prescribed drug. Whatever the reason, you may find yourself in this predicament but don’t worry there is the option of a sperm bank, fertilization clinic, private arrangement with a sperm donor or even going abroad for your sperm donor.
Sperm donors from abroad can be found quite easily but as this is such a delicate decision, you want to get it absolutely right. You will need to research into the different options from abroad or even travel to the country where the donor is residing. Whether you choose a fertility clinic abroad, sperm bank abroad, private donor from somewhere abroad or to have the sperm couriered to you from abroad. There are so many different options and you have to make this very personal decision taking into account a number of different factors naturally, as this will possibly be one of the most important decisions that you will ever have to make in your life-time, you are, in essence, choosing the father of your new, very special arrival to the family. This will be totally awesome once it’s all accomplished and you have your baby.
There are a number of places abroad where you can get sperm from by courier or go to yourself to get a sperm donation, but you have to look at the legalities of each country as well, as there are different rules that vary considerably in each country – so a lot of research has to be done naturally for this reason as well. Not only that, some countries don’t allow sperm donation or any type of surrogacy at all. By researching on the internet though, you will find out exactly what countries have sperm donors, what to expect and what criteria and/or rules and regulations each clinic or sperm bank adhere to. Once you have this information, you can decide what route you are going to go down. Whether you choose to actually go to the country or have the sperm couriered to you in your own country and you do the process of fertilization in your home is, of course, your decision but at least there are different options for you to choose from if you aren’t blessed enough to be able to get pregnant naturally.