Donor sperm can be a treatment option for single women, lesbian couples, couples with severe male-factor, or couples where the male partner is a carrier of a genetic disease, defect, or anomaly and does not wish to pass along the trait to the potential offspring. At The Fertility & Gynecology Center, we do donor inseminations through intra uterine insemination (IUI) and we use donor sperm with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sperm donors may be known or anonymous. The type of donor one chooses is a highly personal decision but regardless of the type chosen the following conditions apply:
- Using A “Known Donor”:
According to California law, if a physician performs an insemination with donor sperm, the provider of that sperm is considered a donor and does not have any parental rights or responsibilities. The known sperm donor and recipient are required to sign consent forms and an acknowledgement of California Family Code 7613.
- Using An “Anonymous Donor”:
There are several large sperm banks throughout the country, where patients can purchase vials of donor sperm for use with an intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. Most donor sperm is purchased as frozen samples. Sperm banks can vary widely with regard to donor information so it would be advisable to do some research before choosing any one bank in particular. All banks must meet the FDA’s very stringent requirements for donor screening. The sperm is quarantined while the donor is tested for infectious diseases. If all is well, the sperm is frozen and held at the sperm bank for six months. Before the sperm is provided to patients or clinics, the donor is re-tested. We encourage our patients to pay close attention to sperm quality when choosing a bank. When going through IUI or IVF at our center, we feel that the ideal number of motile sperm per vial should be a minimum of 15 million.
There are three basic specimen types that can be purchased through the sperm banks: intracervical insemination (ICI), IUI-ready, and IVF-ready. At our center, we can process any sperm samples, at no extra cost to our patients.
Donor Sperm Insemination
Donor insemination is the process of inseminating a woman with sperm obtained from a known or anonymous donor. It involves placement of sperm following separation from seminal fluid into uterine cavity through a procedure known as intrauterine insemination (IUI). If the patient is using anonymous donor sperm for an IUI donor insemination, the patient needs to purchase two vials of either ICI or IUI-ready sperm. If the patient is using a known sperm donor, then the donor will need to produce a specimen on each consecutive day of IUI.
In order to prepare for IUI, a woman usually takes fertility drugs in advance, although it can also be timed with her natural cycle. To reduce the risk of multiple births, the amount of the drug and the response to it is carefully monitored with several ultrasounds and blood tests for estrogen levels prior to the procedure. On the day of the IUI, the doctor will thaw the vial of sperm in the laboratory, perform a count and evaluate the percentage of motile sperm. The sperm are “washed”, using high-tech laboratory procedures, and they are then inserted into the uterine cavity through a long, thin catheter. Dr. Ramirez believes in increasing the chance of pregnancy in his patients by doing two back to back IUI’s on successive days. There is minimal discomfort during this procedure. (For more detailed information on IUI’s, see our Intra Uterine Insemination page.)
Donor Sperm IVF
If a patient has failed multiple IUI cycles (usually no more than four) or cannot do insemination for other medical reasons, then in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor sperm is recommended. With IVF, the patient undergoes an IVF cycle as usual. For IVF, the patient needs to purchase one vial of either IUI-ready or IVF-ready sperm from the sperm bank. When the frozen sperm is thawed in the laboratory, the embryologist will analyze the specimen and determine the motility and concentration of sperm. The embryologist may perform ICSI and inject the sperm directly into the eggs.
Another situation where donor sperm are used is in severe male factor infertility. In rare cases when TESA cannot be performed successfully on the partner, donor sperm can serve as a backup plan.
Where To Purchase Donor Sperm
At The Fertility & Gynecology Center, we accept delivery of frozen sperm at least 1 week prior to the procedure. Our tissue bank coordinator, Karen Warfield, will assist you in planning the shipment and any consents that must be completed prior to the delivery. She is particularly knowledgeable with sperm bank procedures and will be happy to answer any questions the patient may have regarding their purchase. Keep in mind:
- We will accept sperm from sperm banks within the United States. We will only accept sperm from banks outside the United States if they are from the recipient’s spouse or partner.
- All donors used in the United States must be screened for infectious diseases in accordance to FDA rules.
- All testing of sperm donors must be by FDA approved and CLIA certified laboratories.
- The sperm banks must be licensed by the FDA.
Monterey Bay IVF refers many of their patients to the following sperm banks:
California Cryobank www.cryobank.com
Growing Generations www.growinggenerations.com
The Sperm Bank of California www.thespermbankofca.org