The first regulation of reproductive technologies in Canada was for the donation of semen samples for use in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. In 1996, the Semen Regulations (The Processing and Distribution of Semen for Assisted Conception Regulations) of the Food and Drugs Act were issued, and were updated in March 2000.
Semen donors are usually anonymous and undergo rigorous screening for medical and genetic diseases and for all sexually transmitted and other infectious diseases, including AIDS and hepatitis. All donations must be quarantined for six months and the donor re-tested at this time to ensure samples are negative for the viruses that lead to those diseases. The Semen Regulations also stipulate that if a donated sample has a high white blood cell count, it must be destroyed, as this is often indicative of a viral or bacterial infection.
Sperm donation is now a controlled activity under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, and will require licensing once the appropriate regulations have been implemented. The new Act will maintain the practice of "anonymous" donation, although detailed records will be maintained. Donors would have the option of revealing their identity if they choose.
Donations of sperm may be requested to overcome infertility in couples where the man has no sperm production or the sperm count is so low that pregnancy is improbable. Single women and lesbian couples also take advantage of donated sperm in order to conceive.