Donor sperm can be used in many different situations. The most common uses of donor sperm are for single women, same sex, or lesbian couples, or couples in which the male does not produce sperm or there are genetic conditions that they do not want to pass on. Donor sperm is usually used in combination with some form of medication to increase the number of eggs ovulated. The donor sperm is put into the uterus at the proper time through a procedure known as an intrauterine insemination, or IUI. IUI is sometimes called artificial insemination or therapeutic donor insemination (TDI). Donor sperm can also be used for IVF procedures where the eggs and donor sperm are combined outside the body.
Sources of Donor Sperm
The two main sources for donor sperm include directed donors and sperm banks.
Sperm banks work with men that undergo testing and evaluations in compliance with State and Federal regulations. The sperm is then stored and made available for patients to select for fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF. Anonymous donor sperm is the most common type of donor sperm used. Anonymous donors will have their identity and contact information protected through the sperm bank. Some sperm banks have anonymous donors that are willing to be contacted in the future. These programs are known as “open donation”. Each sperm bank provides background information on the donors and various genetic tests. Detailed medical and family histories are usually provided. Patients select the donors based on characteristics such as race, height, and appearance. Once selected, the donor sperm can be shipped to our center and stored in our tanks. Specimens should only be shipped to our center after patients are established in our practice and we have cleared you for treatments.
Directed donations are sperm donations in which the donor is known to the recipient. This type of donation usually is performed when the sperm donor does not desire to have any parental rights, but is providing sperm for the purposes of pregnancy. Directed sperm donations may involve more psychological stressors and must be considered very carefully. Directed donations must comply with State and Federal regulations that mandate specific testing and the timing of the testing. This can become expensive and time consuming. California IVF Fertility Center has years of experience working with directed donations and can provide you with information that can help you decide which type of donation is right for you.
Choosing a Donor Sperm Bank and Donor Profile
There are several donor sperm agencies available. All sperm banks must go through detailed inspection by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has oversight of all organ and tissue donations in the United States. The sperm cryobanks will provide the clinic with all of the necessary documents to confirm the testing has been completed in accordance with the FDA regulations. The sperm banks will offer different types of donor sperm including ICI for intracervical insemination, IUI for intrauterine insemination, and ART for in vitro fertilization. We advise all of our patients to select IUI sperm even if they are using IVF treatments to attempt pregnancy.
The most common sperm banks that we work with are listed below. This list is not all inclusive and patients should evaluate all of the options available to them before selecting a sperm bank.
- Seattle Sperm Bank is the sperm bank of choice for our California Conceptions Donor Embryo Program.
- California Cryobank is a large and very popular sperm bank.
- The Sperm Bank of California is a local program from the Bay Area
- Fairfax Cryobank
- Pacific Reproductive Services
- Xytex Sperm Bank
Each donor sperm bank will require patients to establish an online account. After the account is established, patients will be able to review donor profiles and select a donor. Once a donor is selected, the donor sperm can be shipped to our clinic at the appropriate time. Specimens should not be shipped to our clinic until patients have established care at our center and are ready to undergo treatment. Shipping costs will be paid to the cryobank providing the sperm. Patients should discuss the number of IUI vials that should be shipped. Storage fees will apply to excess vials of sperm and prolonged storage. Please only select specimens for IUI regardless of the type of treatment being used. IVF patients should select IUS specimens as well. Most banks offer additional information about donors such as: audio recordings, photographs, interviews, and additional photos. These items are usually provided at additional cost. These items are not necessary for the selection of most donors and are not needed for treatment purposes. Individual preferences may vary about this additional information and is handled through the individual sperm banks.
Using Donor Sperm
Inseminations can be combined with natural cycles or with medication and monitoring. You should discuss your individual situation with the doctor. California IVF typically works with medicated IUI cycles combined with ultrasound monitoring. This will maximixe the chances of success with each donor sperm insemination. When ovulation is about to occur, the donor sperm is loaded into a small tube, or catheter. This tube is placed through the opening of the cervix and the sperm is transferred into the uterus. The sperm will become trapped in the uterus by surface tension and will not fall out. There is no need to limit activities after the procedure. Pregnancy tests can be performed approximately 2 weeks after the IUI. When medications and ultrasound monitoring are used, additional IUI procedures are not needed. This method typically results in the highest rates of success. Pregnancy rates with IUI will vary based on several different factors. For same sex couples where the patient is under the age of 35, California IVF has a 20 to 24% success rate. In the setting of advanced age, the success with IUI procedures will drop as age increases. By age 40, IUI success has usually dropped below 10% per try.
In Vitro Fertilization
IVF is a more advanced form of treatment that involves taking the eggs out of the body and combining them with sperm in a laboratory setting. Donor sperm can be used to fertilize the eggs. It is even possible to fertilize a portion of eggs with donor sperm and a portion of eggs with the partner’s sperm. IVF will bypass many of the obstacles that can prevent pregnancy in IUI cycles. With our newer approaches to IVF, patients can have up to 70% chance of success per transfer and a cumulative rate of success over 80% per egg retrieval. PGS or preimplantation genetic screening – CCS is associated with an even higher rate of success.
Our physicians will discuss the available fertility treatment options at the new patient visit. There are usually several options available and patients will be able to chose a treatment that is right for them. If you would like to get started, please contact our clinic so we can schedule you for an initial consultation. While getting ready for your visit, you may also wish to research the various sperm cryobanks and start the process of selecting a donor. We are happy to help guide you in the process. California IVF fertility center performs several hundred IUI cycles per year with outstanding success rates.