Backgrounder: Directed-Donation Process for Sperm and Ova Donors


October 2018

In recognition of the right of individuals to make an informed decision to accept certain risks in using donor sperm or ova, Health Canada has introduced proposed new regulations under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act that will offer all Canadians, including members of the LGBTQ2 community and single people, more flexibility in building their families.

The proposed regulations will provide two options for sperm and ova donors: anonymous donation and the new directed-donation process.

Anonymous donors of sperm and ova will be screened, tested and physically examined to determine if they are suitable to donate. At this time, the proposed regulations will reduce the current lifetime deferral for anonymous male donors who have had sex with other men (MSM) to a period of six months.

Under the new directed-donation process, the donor will still be screened, tested and physically examined, as they would be under the regular process. However, a donor will not automatically be considered unsuitable even if their screening would have excluded them from donating under the regular process. This allows donations from individuals who may screen positive for a higher risk factor, such as MSM, to be used. This process provides the recipient with more flexibility in selecting their donor, while still prioritizing the safety of the donation.

In such cases, the health professional will have to document that they have informed the recipient of the risks that the use of the donated sperm or ova could pose and that they have obtained the informed consent of the recipient.

Health Canada continues to closely monitor the progress of various donor screening research initiatives in Canada and internationally. The evidence-based outcomes of these initiatives will be used to inform any future revisions to the donor screening requirements, including the requirements for the directed-donation process.

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