To set the record straight: No, you can’t score some quick cash by donating your sperm for artificial insemination. At least, this is not the usual practice in Singapore.

Donors will only be given a small token as transport allowance, says Dr Hemashree Rajesh, Consultant at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group. In any case, money shouldn’t be a motivation for sperm donation. After all, there are more altruistic reasons to do so.

“Many couples long for a baby but they can’t have one,” explains Dr Rajesh. “A significant number of men have very poor quality sperm or a low sperm count. There are also some men who harbour genetic defects.”

Sperm donation is a non-invasive procedure that can help these childless couples. “It is as ethically commendable as other donations,” states Dr Rajesh.

To donate or not donate?

There is a lack of awareness about sperm donation in Singapore. Unlike blood donation and stem cell donation, sperm donation is not advertised here. Also, donors have to fulfil certain criteria, such as being in tip-top health. Dr Rajesh says: “Due to fear of the unknown, some men are reluctant to undergo the medical examination. Others are unable to clear the screening process.”

Then there are ethical and psychological concerns behind the act. She explains: “For instance, the donor may already be married with children and there could be a fear of their children being matched with offspring from sperm donation in the future, resulting in incest.”

In reality, these fears are largely unfounded. “In our globalised society, it’s more likely that these offspring will end up finding their partners elsewhere in the world,” says Dr Rajesh. In addition, not every donation results in a live birth.

How many times can one donor's sperm be used?

In the United Kingdom, the sperm of a donor can be used to establish a maximum of 10 families. Meanwhile, in the United States, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends that the limit be based on the population from which the donor is selected. For instance, in a population of 800,000, no more than 25 pregnancies should be conceived from the sperm of a single donor.

Dr Rajesh adds: “In comparison, the Ministry of Health in Singapore has more conservative guidelines – a donor’s sperm is limited to establishing three families only.”

So who can donate sperm?

Generally, men who are keen to donate their sperm should not have hereditary diseases or suffer from any medical or mental conditions. Here’s the list of criteria for sperm donors:

  • Healthy men aged between 18 and 40
  • Single or married
  • Singapore citizens living in Singapore, permanent residents or foreigners with Singapore employment permits
  • If not a Singaporean, the potential donor must have lived in Singapore for at least a year
  • The donor should clear the mandatory health screening process

​Read on to learn more about the sperm donation process.