Only infertile couples and couples who could pass on serious diseases are allowed to have reproductive treatment. Couples who are affected can contact one of the centres for medically assisted reproduction.
Treatment is also available for unmarried couples.
However, if a couple wants to use donated sperm, they must be married. This is because through marriage, the husband automatically becomes the father of the child, even if he is not the biological parent.
Couples who wish to have medical help to fulfil their desire to have a child must be given comprehensive advice before treatment. They can also receive psychological support if they so wish. The 30 or so centres for medically assisted reproduction in Switzerland offer the required medical examinations and comprehensive care.
After they have been given information and counselling, the couple must give their written consent to receiving reproductive medical treatment.
In Switzerland, egg donation, embryo donation and surrogacy are prohibited.
Preimplantation diagnostics, i.e. the genetic testing of embryos conceived in a test tube, is only permitted in two cases. In the case of infertile couples, the chances of embryo development may be investigated. In couples with hereditary diseases, the embryos can be tested to determine whether they are affected by the disease concerned.
If they opt for sperm donation, parents are not allowed to choose the donor. However, the Centre for Reproductive Medicine tries to ensure a certain superficial resemblance to the father.
What is allowed and what is not allowed in Switzerland is primarily set out in the Reproductive Medicine Act and the related ordinance.
The method of treatment determines what the couple has to pay themselves and what is covered by health insurance.
Artificial insemination in a test tube is an expensive procedure. This form of in vitro fertilisation is not covered by compulsory health insurance.
The costs of hormonal stimulation and insemination (injection of sperm into the uterus) are covered by health insurance in a limited number of cases.
The exact costs vary from case to case and are not the same in all centres. Couples are given detailed information about the costs when they receive counselling.
Sperm donation and sperm banks
Certain reproductive medicine centres also operate sperm banks. Potential donors are usually between 20 and 40 years old. They undergo a comprehensive health examination and are informed about the legal aspects. Sperm donors are not paid; they can only be compensated for their expenses. Donor sperm may be used to conceive a maximum of 8 children and is preserved for a maximum of 5 years.
Donor data and access to it
Sperm donation is not anonymous. When a child is born that was conceived with donated sperm, details of the sperm donor are given to the Federal Civil Status Office. In the donor data register, the donor's name, date of birth, place of origin/nationality, place of residence, profession/education and physical description are stored.
Children conceived through sperm donation can request information about their biological father. However, this is not usually possible before they reach the age of 18.
An official sperm donation does not create a legal father-child relationship. As a result, the sperm donor has no rights and obligations towards the child (maintenance, education, inheritance).