Genetic evaluation procedures at sperm banks in the United States

The genetic evaluation processes at sperm donor facilities were evaluated. Results show variability in the genetic education content and methods of obtaining informed consent from donor applicants.

Lauren Isley, M.S., C.G.C., Pamela Callum, M.S., C.G.C.

Volume 99, Issue 6, Pages 1587-1591.e7, May 2013


To assess how genetic evaluations of sperm donor applicants are performed in the United States.

A questionnaire was designed to assess 1) the professionals involved in the family history evaluation and genetic screening; 2) the genetic testing, counseling and informed consent processes; and 3) how the results of genetic evaluations and new risk information is communicated to donors.

Semen donor facilities.

Representatives of semen donor facilities.


Main Outcome Measures:
Descriptive data.

Thirteen responses were received. All facilities assess donors’ family histories; eight of the facilities (62%) routinely inform donors about of the results of these evaluations. At the majority of facilities (10/13) informed consent for genetic testing is obtained as part of the overall contract to be a sperm donor. Genetic counselors are employed full-time at two facilities and part-time at five others.

There is variability in the education and informed consent processes for semen donor applicants including variable communication about the limitations of genetic tests and the potential implications for the donors’ own children. Further research into the best practices for education and consent for sperm donor applicants may be beneficial to ensure the well-being of the donors and their future offspring.

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