Donor Sperm

Donor sperm may be just what you need to help you get pregnant in the following situations:

  • Male infertility: If your partner lacks sperm, has a low sperm count or poor sperm quality
  • If your partner has a genetic disorder that you are concerned about passing on to your children
  • If you are a single woman or in a lesbian relationship

If you plan to use donor sperm, you will be tested for certain conditions. Your doctor will want to be sure that your body will not attack or reject the donated sperm.

Deciding on a Donor
One decision you will have to make about donor sperm is whether you want to use a donor you know or whether you will want to visit a sperm bank which will provide sperm from an anonymous donor.

If you do choose a donor that you know, especially if you are single or in a lesbian relationship, make sure to check into your state’s laws concerning donor insemination. Paternity laws may apply in some states and you will want to know each person’s legal rights concerning the child. If you use a known donor, check with an attorney to see what legal steps you may need to take during the process.

Remember: all sperm anonymously donated to a sperm bank is legally required to undergo health testing. If you use fresh sperm from a known donor, you bypass the safeguards and screenings offered by sperm banks (although you can still pursue the screenings on your ow

Visiting a Sperm Bank
When choosing a donor, you will first identify a potential sperm bank. The sperm bank will allow you to screen sperm donors based on the following characteristics:

  • Appearance and ethnicity
  • Career and education
  • Health and medical records

Benefits to choosing anonymous donor sperm include the following:

  • Sperm bank samples are frozen and quarantined for six months before being screened and tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
  • The sperm bank also performs a physical exam of each donor, testing each individual for heritable diseases, like cystic fibrosis.
  • You can select your donor based on his health history, desired physical characteristics, including race and ethnicity, and education/professional experience.

Some anonymous donors leave no identifying information. Others may choose to participate in an “identity release” program offered by some sperm banks. This means the donor permits the sperm bank to release his information at the request of adult offspring once he or she turns 18. In order to limit the number of half siblings that come from any one donor, strongly consider working with a sperm bank that controls the number of live births obtained from each donor.

Overall, buying anonymous donor sperm from a sperm bank is a safe route because the law doesn’t grant anonymous donors any legal right to the children born using their sperm.

Guidelines For Donor Sperm
There are strict guidelines on donor sperm, regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Donor sperm samples are screened for a large number of viruses and genetic health conditions, including HIV. After screening, donor sperm samples are quarantined and frozen for six months before use. Before the sample is used, the donor should be retested for HIV and to make sure there are no health concerns.

Pregnancy With Donor Sperm
Once you have secured the sperm sample and are ready to begin, you may choose to become pregnant via insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Some women also choose to do the process at home, although sperm donations from sperm banks may require that you receive the sample in the fertility clinic office, most likely using insemination.

Types of insemination
Artificial insemination is required for a lesbian couple who is trying to get pregnant with donor sperm. There are two types of insemination:

  • Intra-cervical insemination (ICI).  In this procedure, the semen is placed in the outer part of the cervix like it would in sexual intercourse. There are lower rates of pregnancy with donor insemination when using cryopreserved semen.
  • Intra-uterine insemination (IUI).  In this procedure, the washed sperm is injected into the uterus. IUI helps push the sperm towards reaching the egg, and typically has a higher success rate than ICI.

Timing of Insemination
The insemination procedures are performed on two consecutive days that are based on your ovulation. Doing it two days instead of one increases your chances at conception.

Secure Legal Advice
If you do choose this route it’s critical to understand the laws about donor insemination in your home state. Some state laws may require legal rights or child support responsibilities for known donors. This may be something that you desire, or something you want to avoid. You may want to ask the donor to sign a contract, relinquishing him from any responsibilities or rights to the child. Discussing these scenarios with your partner and non-anonymous donor will make this choice more tangible, realistic and safe for all involved. To protect yourself and your child, sit down with an attorney.

Discuss Your Feelings About Donor Sperm
Before you begin the donor sperm process, you may want to visit a counselor with your partner. Many emotions can arise when becoming pregnant with donor sperm, and it could help you to talk about any feelings or concerns that you may have.