A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the London Sperm Bank reminding me to come in weekly so it doesn't feel like I am "forever abstaining".
Too late, I started donating a few months ago and according to my count I'm just over one third of the way through the programme. A quick calculation suggests that I may be finished in November. Oh no wait I have holidays too, so make that December. Ugh.
The whole donor thing isn't as easy as the guys in my sports club think it is: they imagine I just lock myself in a room, browse some porn, orgasm and collect the money. Then buy them all beer...
The biggest impact being a donor has is on my solo-sex-life. I constantly have to think about scheduling: if I masturbate now what impact will this have on my going to the London Sperm Bank? You see you don't have to abstain completely for the duration of the programme but it's a no-no for 72 hours before you come in to see the jar. So if I want to visit the clinic on a Friday that means nothing on Wed or Thu. And if I slip up and do something on a Wed, then I have to start again and essentially write that week off.
Then there are all the tests. First off you have to get past the initial screening (apparently only 1 in 10 do so). Then you have STI screening and genetic blood tests done. Then your DNA is sequenced to make sure you're not going to produce children with genetic malformations. And I've just made an appointment with a doctor for a physical check-over and discussion of any family issues that may suggest my sperm would be undesirable. And after all these checks they quarantine your produce for a year. Just in case.
So it's not all sunshine and fun. It's definitely not something that should be entered into lightly: it impacts your daily life to a certain extent and then there's the fact that you're actually creating children who could come and ask you out for a beer in 18 years time to get to know you.
And yet it's all for a good cause, which makes it totally worthwhile. Attached to the email I mentioned earlier were a series of thank you cards from mothers/parents, with photos of beautiful children that they wouldn't have been able to have without the (*cough*) hard work and dedication of donors like me. Looking at those photos reminds me of the look my brother and his wife have on their faces when they look at their son. Even writing that sentence I well up with happiness for my brother that they finally got the child they'd been trying so hard for, as I remember the pain they went through with miscarriages and the stacks of books with titles like 'Conceiving for Dummies' (I'm not sure if that actually exists but I would be willing to bet it does). My brother even gave up booze for a year as his wife had read somewhere that it would strengthen up his little swimmers (you don't know my brother but he likes his booze so the fact that he gave it up shows how desperate he got).
In the end my brother managed to conceive naturally but I know other couples who haven't been able to. Not to mention all the lesbian friends I have who don't have the “right” body parts to allow for natural fertilisation.
So yes being a donor interferes with my life a bit but the benefits outweigh the downsides. I just need to think of the happiness I'll bring others by allowing them to have children. And really when you think about it, is not masturbating for a few days that much of a pain? It's certainly less of a bother than the marathon I'm running next year to raise funds for a blood cancer charity I'm also a donor with-26 miles of hell (plus all the training!) vs. abstaining for 72 hours prior to each donation. Not really much of a comparison.
Meanwhile I need to figure out how I can schedule going to the clinic bi-weekly. I'm sure my boss thinks I have something seriously wrong with me given the number of 'Doctor' appointments I have in my diary!
Post written by London Sperm Bank Donor