Swedish sperm donors are driven by altruism, but shortage of sperm donors leads to reproductive travelling

Ups J Med Sci. 2008;113(3):305-13. doi: 10.3109/2000-1967-241.


Background: Swedish legislation requires that sperm donors are identifiable to offspring. In Denmark sperm donors remain anonymous. The aim of this study was to examine sperm donation in Sweden by identifying socio-demographic backgrounds, motivations and attitudes among donors and to describe options and plans of sperm recipients. Furthermore, the willingness of Swedish health care providers to assist in treatment abroad, where sperm from an anonymous donor were to be used, was assessed. The extent of travelling to Denmark for reproductive purposes was also examined.

Methods: Thirty Swedish sperm donors completed a questionnaire and were interviewed about their backgrounds, motivations and attitudes. Thirty couples where the infertility workup had shown azoospermia were interviewed about their options for achieving parenthood. The willingness to assist in fertility treatment abroad and the extent of reproductive cross border travelling were assessed by interviewing health care providers and by contacting Danish clinics.

Results: Almost all donors were Caucasian. The main motivation for sperm donors was to help others. Owing to shortage of sperm donors many Caucasian recipients intended to have treatment abroad. For most non-Caucasian recipients sperm from a donor of appropriate ethnicity were not available in Sweden. Whether the sperm donor was anonymous or identifiable was not of major importance to most sperm recipients. Health care providers expressed unanimous willingness to assist in treatment with sperm from an anonymous donor. Our inquiry indicated that more than 250 Swedish sperm recipients travel to Denmark annually.

Conclusions: Identifiable sperm donors are driven by altruistic motives, but shortage of sperm donors leads to reproductive travelling. Recruitment strategies to increase the number of sperm donors in Sweden are therefore warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Altruism*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Azoospermia / therapy
  • Demography
  • Denmark
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insemination, Artificial, Heterologous / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Tissue Donors / psychology*
  • Travel / psychology*
  • Young Adult