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Sperm donation

Gamete donation is managed by Centres d’Etudes et de Conservation de Œufs et du Sperme (CECOS). Twenty-nine CECOS cover France and co-ordinate donation with all of the approved centres offering Medically Assisted Procreation (MAP).


Who can become a donor?


In France, gamete donation follows three key principles:

  • Consent: donors donate of their own free will, after the donor signs a consent form, with his spouse if he is a member of a couple.
  • Anonymity: donors and recipients cannot access each other’s identity. Furthermore, the number of births from a single donor is limited to 10, to minimise the risk of consanguinity in the population.
  • No-cost: donors are not paid, but expenses which they incur by donating are covered (travel costs).

A man can donate sperm if he is under 45 and if he is in good health. The CECOS biologist notes his personal and family medical history, and his morphological features to assist pairing with recipients (skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, height and weight). Medical examinations are also conducted: blood group determination, regulatory viral and bacterial serologies, caryotype (chromosome examination).

At the first appointment, sperm quality (number, mobility and morphology of spermatozoids) is assessed; the sperm is then frozen in paillettes. A paillette thawing test is conducted the same day to ensure post-thaw spermatozoid mobility. If the test result is satisfactory, the donor may donate again.

Donor regulatory serologies must always be reassessed after 6 months, to permit allocation of spermatozoids to receiving couples.

Since the Bioethics Act was reviewed in 2011, a man who has not had a child may donate if he meets the above conditions. Accordingly, the CECOS doctor will propose that he keeps some of his spermatozoids for himself, for MAP later.


Donation indications


Legally at present, sperm donation is only authorised for heterosexual couples. Three situations would justify recourse to donation:

  • First and foremost, azoospermia, i.e. if a man has no spermatozoids. Azoospermia may occur spontaneously or after sterilising medical treatment (for example, chemotherapy).
  • When the man carries serious genetic pathology which could be transmitted to his descendants.
  • After several failed attempts at MAP as a couple; if the spouse’s poor sperm quality is to be blamed, recourse to sperm donation is an option.


How do you apply for sperm donation?


A couple seeking donation will be seen in a consultation at the CECOS to put forward their case. The couple will be interviewed, especially to seek information which could guide pairing with a donor: the man’s physical features, blood groups determination and his spouse’s and personal and family medical history.

Moreover, to approve the donation application, the couple must sign a declaration of consent for MAP with the third party donor at the Regional Court where they live.

Finally, the case will be assessed at a multi-disciplinary meeting, with CECOS doctors and psychologists present.


What is the waiting time?


Once the case has been compiled, pre-paillette issue waiting time may vary from 6 to 24 months, especially if certain features sought for pairing between the recipient and the donor are rare. This is because the number of donation applications outweighs the supply available in France (about 10 recipient couples for every 1 donor accepted).

Waiting time may be reduced if the receiving couple finds a potential sperm donor or oocyte donor from those around them. It is important to note that a donor found may not under any circumstances donate directly to a recipient couple they know.


What are the techniques?


When a donor is paired with the receiving couple, a MAP attempt will be scheduled. The receiving patient then collects a spermatozoid paillette from the CECOS which is allocated to him, and signs the consent form for a MAP attempt with the third party donor.

Depending on the receiving patient’s gynaecological assessment, two techniques may be indicated:

  • Intrauterine insemination, which entails placing the frozen spermatozoid preparation in the patient’s uterus, after ovulation induction treatment.
  • If the woman’s assessment is abnormal or if several previous inseminations have failed, in vitro fertilisation with micro-injection (more commonly known as ICSI) is indicated. Oocytes sampled are fertilised with donor spermatozoids, then cultured in the laboratory for 2 to 6 days to select the embryo(s) to be placed in the uterus, and ones to be frozen.


Public consultations (sector 1, without exceeding fees): contact the appointment office of Antoine Béclère Hospital: 01 41 07 95 95


Private consultations (sector 2, with overruns): contact Ms. Céline Delattre at or celine.delattre@aphp.fr