How Donor Sperm Works

by | Oct 26, 2023 | Donor, Resources

Choosing a sperm donor, the donation process, and other factors to consider

Donor sperm works by offering an important fertility option for many individuals. We should note that step one in any fertility journey is an initial consultation to discuss appropriate treatment options. In general, however, 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

Donor sperm falls under the branch of collaborative reproduction. Here, intended parents use genetic material from a third party to assist in conceiving a child. As with all collaborative reproduction, there are some unique factors to consider when using donor sperm. The first factor to consider involves the type of donor: non-directed or directed.

How Does Directed and Non-Directed Donor Sperm Work?

In non-directed donation, the donor and the intended parents do not know each other. In sperm donation, this typically means the intended parents work with a sperm bank. Sperm banks receive, test, and store sperm donations from multiple donors. They also act as a mediator between the donor and the recipient. Donor banks screen candidates for their personal and family medical history, as well as comprehensive genetic and infectious disease testing. Once a bank collects a sperm sample, they quarantine that sample for six months before it becomes available for purchase. This allow for repeat infectious disease testing after the initial donation. Once approved, the donor creates a profile with the bank, allowing prospective recipients to make an informed 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 deciding whether to use a directed 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 to work with a directed sperm 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.

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