Author: Rebecca Turner
Donor Sperm 101: How to Get Started
Donor sperm is an important fertility option for many individuals. The first step in any fertility journey is a consultation with your fertility doctor to discuss which treatment options are right for you. In general, donor sperm is a viable option for:
• Couples where neither partner produces sperm
• Single parents who either don’t produce sperm or produce low-quality sperm
• Heterosexual couples with male-factor infertility
• Intended parents with concerns about genetically transmitted conditions
Using donor sperm is one form of collaborative reproduction, where genetic material from an individual other than the intended parent(s) is used to assist in conceiving a child. As with all collaborative reproduction, there are some unique factors to consider when using donor sperm.
Directed Donor (aka Known Donor) Vs. Non-Directed Donor (aka Sperm Banks)
The first question to answer is whether you would like to use sperm from a sperm bank or from someone you know. Sperm banks are companies that receive, test, and store sperm donations from multiple donors, acting as a mediator between the donor and the recipient. Sperm banks screen donors for their personal and family medical history, as well as comprehensive genetic and infectious disease testing. Sperm that is collected is quarantined at that sperm bank before it is released for purchase, allowing for repeat infectious disease testing 6 months later. Once released, a profile is created for the donor, allowing prospective recipients to make an educated choice. Some donors elect to be “open donors,” meaning they are open to being contacted once the donor-conceived child is over age 18.
On the other hand, directed or known donors are exactly what they sound like: donors who are known to you, either someone you knew beforehand (a friend or family member, for instance) or someone you find for the purpose of donation. This process is more complex and more involved than proceeding with a sperm bank.
Things to Consider When Deciding On Your Donor Source
When you’re deciding whether to use a known donor or work with a sperm bank, here are some questions to consider:
• Do you want the possibility for your child to contact their donor?
• If considering a family member or friend as a donor, what role do you want them to play in your child’s life? How would this donation change your relationship?
• What qualities are you looking for in a donor?
Sperm banks screen and test all donations for many genetic and transmissible diseases. Additionally, sperm banks have legal paperwork in place to waive the donor’s parental rights.
If you choose a directed donor, your fertility clinic will have testing and screening requirements to ensure that the donor is a good candidate for sperm donation. You will also need to consult an attorney specializing in fertility arrangements to draw up a legal contract to settle on a parental rights agreement
The Donor Sperm Process
Once you have chosen your donor, the sperm will be sent to you or your fertility clinic. There are a few different treatment options involving donor sperm, depending on your specific fertility history. Your fertility doctor will help guide you on which treatment process to choose, and how much sperm to purchase depending on the procedure and your family building goals.
We know the process of using donor sperm can be daunting, and we have a number of resources to help you on your journey. PNW Fertility works with several excellent sperm banks around the country, and we have helped many families conceive with donor sperm. If you’re considering using donor sperm, contact us for a consultation today.