Are you planning a pregnancy using donor sperm? If so, you have the opportunity to choose your sperm donor. This process requires some strategic planning, or you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed by all the options.
Here are four essential criteria to help guide the way as you choose your child’s (or children’s) potential sperm donor.
According to the U.S. Donor Conceived Council (DCC), there are 41 sperm banks owned by 20 different companies here in the United States – one of which is a non-profit (The Sperm Bank of California). All of those are FDA-approved. Most sperm banks are located in or near University towns, which accounts for the high numbers of young college- and post-grad sperm available to individuals and couples interested in using donor sperm.
However, sperm banks are not highly regulated when verifying the family or personal medical history of their donors. This is worth looking into when choosing your sperm bank. Again, the DCC’s most recent survey (2022) states that:
- Only seven companies (35 percent) currently request three generations of family medical history from donors.
- More than half of companies (65 percent) conduct expanded/pan-ethnic genetic carrier screening on donors.
- Six companies (30 percent) verify a donor’s self-reported education history through transcripts or other records.
- Only eight companies (40 percent) conduct criminal background checks on donors.
- 50 percent of sperm banks (ten companies) conduct psychological evaluations of donors as recommended
- Just ten percent of banks (two companies) require pre-donation psychoeducational counseling for donors.
In other words, it’s with your time and effort to connect with prospective sperm banks in your area and beyond, screening top contenders by asking which of these things they do – or don’t do. Then, you can whittle your choices down to the companies with the most stringent, accountable donor requirements and records.
One of the first things you can do to whittle down sperm bank options is to ask if they verify CMV status and perform genetic carrier screening of their donors. If the answer is no, move down the list.
- CMV status (positive or negative): Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a member of the herpes virus family. You’re a CMV carrier if you ever had a cold sore or fever blister on your lip. However, if the infection is active in a donor’s body when he donates sperm, it risks the mother and baby’s health. Therefore, you want sperm from a donor who is either CMV-negative OR CMV-positive but without an active infection at the time of the donation.
- Genetic/chromosome screening. Donors who test positive for known genetic/chromosomal disorders – including those most associated with their ethnicity – should be eliminated from the pool completely. Unknowingly receiving sperm from a donor that is a carrier for certain genetic/chromosomal disorders increases your chance of failed conception(s), miscarriages, or having a baby with a genetic/chromosomal defect.
Finding the healthiest sperm out there optimizes your chances of a healthy pregnancy and live birth.
Most individuals and couples using donor sperm are already aligned with a fertility specialist – but not always. Healthy women and LGBTQ+ couples can always get sperm on their own and use a combination of the “turkey baster” method, timing conception to sync with your most fertile window, and Clomid (an oral fertility medication) to increase conception chances.
That said, it’s still worth consulting with a fertility specialist beforehand. We can refer you to our top sperm bank recommendations. Also, we can discuss when it makes sense to seek fertility support to get pregnant with donor sperm. We also recommend having a fertility workup. The more we know about your fertility health, the better your chances of having a full-term pregnancy using donor sperm. Your fertility consultation also helps you narrow down how many vials of sperm you should purchase to ensure you have enough based on your age, reproductive history, fertility treatment plan, other fertility factors, and your budget.
It makes sense that women and couples want to select a donor to produce a child that looks similar to one born into your family. Most people think about this first, but we recommend honing in on the best sperm bank before perusing all of the sperm donors out there. Then, once you’ve performed due diligence, you can begin selecting your sperm based on donor characteristics that matter the most to you:
- Physical traits that match you and/or your partner
- Education level/occupation
Are you getting ready to choose donor sperm for an upcoming pregnancy? The team at Fertility Solutions works with the most reputable sperm banks in New England. We can help you determine the best sperm bank – and fertility treatment plan – to help you get pregnant. Contact us to schedule a consultation.