Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dear Diary......

*****This week comes two blog entries as one is from two weeks ago, preparation for our Alternative Parenting Show meant delayed blog postings :-) ******

It amazes me that I started donating five months ago: on the one hand it seems like a long time but then it seems like the time has flown by.  I think that's more to do with my changing jobs, seven holidays and a generally busy life, than my being a sperm donor however.

On the way over to the London Sperm Bank earlier I was reflecting on the first time I did the journey and how nervous I was.  When I get nervous my OCD tends to go into overdrive and that time was no different: I had cached maps, excuses in my head should anyone at work ask where I'd been and various notes saved to my phone to help fill the forms out.  I'd done the planning and so I duly went on my way.

The expectations I'd had of the London Sperm Bank were that it would be similar to other every other medical institution I'd visited in the past: involving bored and indifferent reception staff, with maybe the occasional 'how was your weekend?' to keep things friendly and the constant waiting that doctor appointments invariably involve...

Oh how wrong I was! 

Bored reception staff?  Nope: I was greeted directly by the extremely friendly Donor Recruitment Officer, Toyin.  Indifferent?  No way: she gave the impression that she really believed in what she was doing.  Friendly?  Positively: my nerves didn't stand a chance against her enthusiasm and cheerfulness!  Waiting?!  HAH!! It took me longer to walk down the corridor to reception than I stood waiting...  

Toyin had completely won me over before she even got as far as (kindly) commenting on how much younger I looked than the date of birth in my passport suggested.

Yet the nerves were still there.  And I remember being jealous of how seemingly at ease another donor was and how much banter and camaraderie there was between him and Toyin.  I just couldn't see myself ever being that relaxed in this environment, my 'inner mother' just wouldn't allow it.

So yes it amazes me that five months has passed.  But even more so I am amazed how sperm donation has become part of my life.  I'm now the one chatting and enjoying banter with Toyin and Natalie, the other friendly face I see weekly.  They comment if I miss a week.  They know my donor number.  We chat about things other than sperm.  There's a cheerful wave and goodbye after a donation.  I feel welcomed and valued, and all that awkwardness and nervousness is a dim and distant memory.

It's going to be strange when I no longer need to give donations.

Article written by London Sperm Bank Donor, IT consultant working in the City.

Dear Diary.....

As I left the LSB this morning, Toyin was furiously at work updating donor profiles on the LSB website, getting them ready for the Alternative Parenting Show.  And to think I've been whinging about the report I've had to write...

With less than a month to go until my first sample becomes available for use, my profile will presumably be written soon.  Indeed, Toyin's last email to us donors included a plea for information that would assist in her writing them.  I resisted replying with a list of keywords: 'genius, Adonis, personable, well endowed, hilariously funny, modest...' etc.  After all, she presumably already had them all on her list anyway.

But it can't be easy having to write these profiles.  Summarising someone's personality down into a paragraph or so of text.  Keeping it brief yet description.  Conveying the donor's personality, warts and all, yet trying to put everyone in a positive light.  I've equated it to online dating before and I'm still sticking by that comparison.

For me, this is becoming the end game of my time as a sperm donor: just 15 more vials required.  This time next year I'll presumably have received an email or two with notification of a live birth from my sperm and my weekly trips to Harley St will be a dim and distant memory.  It'll be a bit sad to say good bye to Toyin and her team but I'm really looking forward to posting 'I'm a father' on Facebook. I'm sure my friends will get bored of it after the 5th time...

Article written by London Sperm Bank Donor: IT consultant working in the City

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dear Diary.......

My sports club is currently enjoying a number of foreign visitors over for the olympics.  Last night, over my nth post-sport-beer, my conversation with a gay American couple shifted to that of male circumcision (don't ask me how we got onto it, I really have no idea).

There's been a lot of press recently over a German court banning any non-medically-necessary circumcision of children.  Well, 'a lot' may be an exaggeration but how often do we read about the actions of German courts in the Daily Mail?

So what has this got to do with sperm donation? Rights. I'll explain...

When you sign up as a donor there's a box asking if you want any restrictions placed on the use of your sperm.  That's really about it as far as donor rights go.  Sure I could ring up later having change my mind about the whole thing and they'll destroy my donations but I can't say 'ok sure you can have my sperm but I want you to dress any children conceived from it only in organic cotton and I want you to read them The Very Hungry Caterpillar twice weekly'.

And I certainly can't dictate that they are under no circumstances allowed to circumcise any male children.

This was my biggest sticking point in being a donor: the giving up of control and responsibility.  Basically, what happens when a product of my loins rocks up on my doorstep in 19 years time and I'm either disappointed in them or disagree with the way they've been brought up?

I understand enough about genetics to appreciate that despite whatever genetic advantages (or disadvantages) they may receive from me, they'll end up the way they'll end up.  But the parents are a different matter.  They're people I can disagree with and get angry about.  What if they raise my sperm-child to believe that spicy food is bad for you?  What if they never raise the child to see the wonder in the world around us or to encourage them to seek out every opportunity for growth and adventure?

And as a Humanist-cum-militant-atheist, I (very) briefly contemplating asking if I could put a restriction in dictating that only non-religious people could conceive using my sperm.  

Of course I realised it was futile to worry about what may be.  Sure I may end up being disappointed in them but what parent doesn't worry about this.  On the flip side the young adults that seek me out later may put me to shame having done, seen and achieved more than my feeble worries could ever imagine.

So I have no rights but what about influence?

As a donor I was encouraged to write a 'letter' to any children who want to know more about their donor, going into detail about my life, childhood, personality and so on.  I think it's probably the most difficult thing I've had to do since I left university! I wanted to write something that would inspire them to live life whilst giving a taste of what it is that is me and where any annoying personality traits they have may have come from.  Yet at the same time trying not to come across as too 'cringe' (and I couldn't help but fret about what Toyin would think typing up my letter!).

I have no idea if my letter will do any good or if anyone will read it or even understand it!  So now it's over to their parents...

Post written by a  current London Sperm Bank donor:  IT Consultant working in the city

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Dear Diary.....

This week I passed through the final check-point on my way to having my donations approved for consumption: a check-up and chat with a doctor upstairs from the London Sperm Bank (LSB) in the London's Women Clinic.

I felt a bit strange walking into the Women's Clinic, as I was seemingly the only man around.  I had an appointment and was supposed to be there but I felt like I was intruding somehow in the magic of child-making.  Did the ladies waiting with me really want to see me sitting there?  A donor! Get out!!  Get yourself back downstairs to your porn and jars and earn your keep...

I ended up stalking a cute lesbian couple from the downstairs waiting room up to the upstairs waiting room and it was lovely to see them supporting each other whilst they waited for a scan.  Neither was showing so it must be quite soon into the pregnancy and I couldn't help but feel a warm glow inside that someday one of my donations would be allowing something similar to happen.

The doctor appointment involved a chat to ensure I was of sound mind and knew what I was getting into and a poke around my genitals, although without the requisite cough.  I’m not sure why my genitals needed poking, as presumably the fact that I'm able to produce healthy donations would suggest everything was fine, but I duly dropped my pants and endured the poke before heading back down to the LSB to give another donation.

Dropping back down to the basement I couldn't help but compare the LSB with the London Women's Clinic.  

I like the London Sperm Bank, with its brightly painted rooms, but the contrast between the two made the LSB have a slightly seedy feel to it, almost like a bachelor pad: it's in a basement, there's a leather couch with a TV and the rooms where the deed is done have a selection of porn in them (split into straight and gay piles).

Whereas the London Women's Clinic had floral couches, high ceilings, copies of The Economist instead of porn and a lot of very expensive equipment.

It was like those times I've accidentally walked into the ladies changing rooms with that feeling of wrongness: oh this is nice... No wait hang-on, where's the smell of urine and sweat, oh hell I'm in the ladies... 

But the LSB feels a bit like home now, grubby porn and all, whereas the Women's Clinic was alien and clinical to me after spending so much time at the sperm bank.  From the presence of the nurses in their scrubs to the fact that the receptionist referred to me as Mr, it felt very business like, rather than the friendly smiles and banter downstairs.

I've realised recently that not only have I started getting quite emotionally invested in being a donor but that I'm actually enjoying the experience.  I feel good about it!  And not just because of the associated orgasms... I look forward to seeing Toyin and hearing her stories of men posting condoms through to them as prank 'donations' (They apparently didn't even tie a knot in it so it leaked out everywhere... vile!)

It's amazing how something that a few months ago felt awkward, uncomfortable and forced is transitioning into 'normal'.

Blog entry written by a London Sperm Bank Donor, an IT Consultant working in the city.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Dear Diary......

"Not tonight dear; I have a headache".  I never thought I'd utter those words but today, in a loose way, I did.  And I'm not quite sure how I feel about it...  Disappointment?  Shame?  Mock indifference?  All of the above most likely.

When it comes to ejaculation, I'm not the fastest boy on the block.  I've come to accept that it just takes me a while, and that sometimes things just don't go the way I want.   But apparently my brother is similar (yes, we're a sharing family) and Google returns pages of results with people who post comments asking about it, so it's not something that I'm alone in and it's something I've come to accept about myself.

Yet when I go to the sperm clinic to donate I can't help but fret about my performance.  When you arrive and sign in you're given your stats (your 'performance' if you like) from your last visit.  Usually with some muttered praise about how well you did, presumably so that your male ego feels large enough that you're encouraged to continue with the programme.  I suck it up of course: my heart swelling with pride at being told my numbers are 'really really good', grabbing the BIOHAZARD bag and going off to the booth to do Another Good Job.  

Last week though things didn't follow this pattern: I had a sample rejected.  Apparently my little swimmers were tired or something so when I arrived instead of numbers there was 'DISCARD' in the column.  It had been highlighted.  I presume to draw even more attention to my failure...  The occasional rejection is apparently normal; they say that most people have 3-4 donations rejected.  But I found it as some sort of affront to my masculinity: how dare they reject me!

And now this week things have reached a new low: I left the booth with an empty BIOHAZARD bag having given it my all and failed.  

As I said earlier, I'm quite used to not reaching climax.  But at the clinic there's paperwork: lines that need to be drawn through entries and so on.  And so I couldn't help but feel a bit of shame and inadequacy when I handed over the empty bag and scurried away.

I'm sure it must happen to others too but as men we don't like to talk about the bad sex.  Just the good sex.  And although my weekly relationship with a little plastic jar isn't actually sex, it's close enough that my ego can't tell the difference.

But next week is another week.  I'll catch up on some sleep and in a few weeks time this little episode will be forgotten.  The ladies at the London Sperm Bank have probably forgotten about it already.  They don't care how long I spend in the booth or what porn I look at.  Or even that I'm jacking off.  Just as long as everything is safe and legal they're happy.

Post written by London Sperm Bank Donor.  IT specialist

Friday, 22 June 2012

Dear Diary.....

Last night, over dinner with my sports club, I dropped into conversation that I was a sperm donor.  They took it quite well, by which I mean that only one person looked shocked and asked me to repeat what I'd just said.

I've always been one of those people that friends criticise for being overly honest about my life: I don't like to dress things up and I struggle somewhat with conversational boundaries. I've been dubbed 'inappropriate' by many whilst at the same time applauded for being direct and not embarrassed to discuss things like masturbation or the snot hanging from my friend's nose...

Yet when I started donating I felt the need to be quiet about it.  I worried about this being a new low for me: being paid to donate something I'm usually quite happy to waste without any thought.  The money wasn't the reason I decided to donate but I did fret that friends would misinterpret my motives and think of me as some sort prostitute.  I just wasn't sure how the group would react so I kept things to myself.

This withholding didn't really sit well with me and after a couple of visits I decided that my close friends know enough my past antics for this to not cause any issues or raised eyebrows.  After all we all masturbate and that's all donation is really...  Just with a jar and paperwork.  And a bag clearly labelled 'BIOHAZARD'.  
So I outed myself as a donor to a friend via email:
  • Me: 'I'm a sperm donor'
  • Friend: 'Cool.  See you in the pub later'.
No derision.  No disgust. Just acceptance.

By the time I got to the pub, however, it was apparent that the gossip circle had been running at full belt as everyone knew what I'd been up to and was full of questions.  If I'd know just how many questions there were going to be I'd have prepared a powerpoint deck! They grilled me about why I'd decided to do it, what it involved, was I buying the beers using sperm-money and 'can I be there when you tell your mother?'.

All in all things were positive and it proved that my fears of being branded a prostitute were unfounded. Reactions ranged from "I think you're doing a great thing" and "I wish I was capable of abstaining for more than a day so I could do it" to mildly negative comments around my helping people produce children who should be really adopting or that, from a gay friend, I was in some way having sex with a woman, which he found disturbing. But mostly positive.

One particular highlight of my coming out as a donor was at a birthday where someone asked how my donations were going.  From this the conversation lead down a path to us drunkenly coming up with a marketing strategy for a new range of mini milks. At which point the waiter, who'd be fussing around us throughout, interrupted to ask if we were interested in desert...  For some reason the birthday boy felt it necessary to apologise. 

The most extreme reaction I've had was from my mother, unsurprisingly, who decided that my donating was depriving her of grand children. Despite already having four... But this post isn't long enough to work through the way my mother's mind works. Yet even she has got over her initial shock (I'm sure the arrival of two more grand children helped), so these days I'm much happier discussing it and I've even told my aunty.  I've not quite reached the stage of checking myself into the clinic on Facebook when I go but I'm no longer shy about it. I can even, almost, look Toyin, the nice lady at reception, in the eye afterwards...

Post written by a London Sperm Bank Donor,  IT Consultant

Dear Diary......

Bring sperm donation up in conversation and it will almost certainly be met by snickers. And not the yummy type, unfortunately. You can almost see the mental image forming in the person's head : overweight, sweaty perverts furiously jacking off over some porn rag in a grubby room somewhere. 

It’s not like that at all. Whatever the individual sperm donor’s sexual predilection may be, it has nothing to do with why they’re donating. We’re donating because we want to help. End of. There’s nothing in it for us, apart from recouping travel expenses and the three seconds of pleasure the male orgasm affords. Some of us have personal reasons. As for myself, two of my siblings were conceived through IVF and my wider familial situation has made me realise the old adage, ‘Blood is thicker than Water’, is nothing more than a go-to saying for manipulative family members. My closest family relationships are actually with step-parents. Contrary to popular opinion, you can choose your family.

One of the most amazing things about sperm donation, in my opinion, is that some donors (and indeed some recipients) are gay. This exemplifies how, at the core, it is about helping humans have children, regardless of who or what they are. It breaks away from the trappings of the rigid nuclear family (a hangover from our species infancy in which women and children were seen as chattel) and looks towards a brighter future where a core human right - the right to have children - is universal, regardless of gender, orientation or social status. One only has to imagine the suffering of childless individuals or gay people who want to have children in less progressive societies to understand that sperm donation and fertility programs are spearheading something very important, something that has only recently emerged on humanity’s horizon. Clinics, patients and donors alike are essentially standing for personal choice, total social equality and unconditional love, three things that should be present in every human society.

Post written by a London Sperm Bank Donor , Archaeology  Student

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

It's now or never if you were born in 1972

Last month the HFEA reduced the legal age a man can donate his sperm from 45 to 41, which means the time to take action is now.  If you have considered sperm donation, but haven’t got round to making in enquiry, the decision could be taken out of your hands if you were born before 1972.

Why is there an age limit on donating sperm?

According to Dr. Silber, of St Luke's Infertility Hospital in the US, "Men experience an age-related decrease in testicular size and in sperm production.  In some men, there is a decline in testosterone production and a decreased ability of the body to produce and mature sperm cells, which becomes noticeable after the age of 40”

It is also known that as men age, sperm cells can accumulate mutations that are passed to offspring. Regardless of age, sperm continues to reproduce through division. If a sperm becomes altered or mutates, any other sperm that is produced by the natural division will also be altered or mutated. Each successive division introduces a slight risk of error in the genetic material of the new sperm, which is passed on to the children.

How to join our donor program

The first step involves filling out an enquiry form on the London Sperm Bank  website or calling one of our consultants on 020 7563 4305 to book an initial screening appointment.

This appointment is an opportunity for you to find out more about the donor program as well as for us to find out a bit more about yourself.  We ask you to complete a medical questionnaire as well as to produce a sperm sample for us to test its suitability to freeze.   You will get the results of this appointment within 48 hours and if you are suitable we ask for you to visit us again for infectious screening tests (STD and Hepatitis).  If you are found to be none infectious we then invite you to join our donor program.

The program last approximately 3-6 months and over the course of donation you will be screened for hereditary disease and asked to see one of our onsite doctors for a complete medical check up.
Even if for any reason you are not accepted onto our program, our meticulous screening process means that at the very least you find out more about yourself than when you previously enquired.

To reflect the changes the HFEA made to the payment policy we are now reimbursing all of our donors a flat fee of £35 per visit to the clinic.  Previously the HFEA had placed a £250 cap on expenses, this cap has now been removed.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Increase to payments to sperm donors

This Sunday marks the begining of changes to taking place in the world of gamete donation!

As of Sunday, sperm donors will receive a flat fee of £35 per donation!!! to find out more click here: http://londonspermbank.com/will_i_get_paid_for_my_sperm_donation.html

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Be a hero, become a sperm donor!

In the UK there is a huge demand for donor sperm which has lead to some patients having to go on very long waiting lists.  The London Sperm Bank has grown to become one of the largest sperm banks in the UK and thanks to our donors we have successfully created 1661 families through our parent clinic The London Women’s Clinic.

To these patients our donors are quite frankly their hero’s because without their help their beautiful family unit would not exist.  Sperm donation is a vital part of a long journey that women take in order to have a family.

There are many more reasons for becoming a donor each reason unique to the individual, which makes the recruitment process all the more fun for us.

Apart from the national shortage and the act of doing something selfless, men have chosen to come forward for the following reasons including to pass on genes: Although sperm donors are not legal parents of donor conceived children genetic preservation seems like a satisfactory alternative for some men. 

The initial process is fairly simple in that if you are interested you can simply fill out an enquiry form on our website www.londonspermbank.com or call us on 020 7935 4305 to register an interest. 
The requirements:

  • ·         Aged 18-45
  • ·         Healthy and free from infection
  • ·         Free from hereditary disease
  • ·         Agree to make up to 25 donations over a period of 3-6 months

The initial screening tests to join the program will be complete within the first 2 visits to the clinic and they consist of a semen analysis and a blood and urine test.  All visits to and from the clinic are reimbursed in terms of loss of earnings and travel.  Once you have completed the donor program you can also find out from us specific information about the outcome of your donations such as the number of live births you have had as well as the sex and year of birth of any offspring created as a result of your donations.

Pass on your genes and make this year the year you chose to be someone’s hero.  Make this year count.