10 things you should know before picking a sperm donor

Jun 30, 2010 | Fertility Care
  1. Not all donor sperm banks are the same. Ask your fertility doctor for a recommended list of sperm banks that she considers reputable. Feel free to ask me for the list of banks that I recommend to my patients. I also ask my patients to send me the donor’s information before they purchase the vial. Having a medical doctor review your donor’s history may help you make the wisest donor choice.
  2. Pregnancy rates with frozen sperm are not as good as fresh. Frozen sperm when thawed doesn’t live as long and pregnancy rates are lower compared with fresh sperm. Do you have to do two inseminations? Not necessarily, but ask your doc if she thinks that 2 may increase your chances of pregnancy.
  3. Medicated vs. Unmedicated: I generally recommend medicated cycles for patients over 30. But this is not a requirement. If you’d rather try natural cycle inseminations, you definitely can, but realize your chances of pregnancy are going to be lower with sperm that was frozen compared to fresh sperm. So if you are over 30, strongly consider taking a fertility pill like Clomid or Femara. This will potentially increase your chances of getting pregnant so you get pregnant sooner than later. Realize that this does increase your chances of twins. Fertility medications have side effects so talk to your doc about whether you would be a candidate for fertility drugs
  4. Make sure your fallopian tubes are open. Why would this be important? You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars only to find out that your fallopian tubes were blocked the whole time and you should have been doing IVF. Even if you don’t have any risk factors for blocked tubes (Chlamydia, Endometriosis, a history of appendicitis to name a few) doesn’t mean your tubes aren’t blocked. It’s worth checking and may even increase your chances of conceiving if you try right after your tube test. Your doctor may recommend a hysterosalpingogram or a saline infusion sonogram to check your tubes.
  5. Know your body. Track your ovulation as you are getting close to your first insemination cycle. This way, you will know when you’re ovulating and how to plan your life around your treatment. If you are under 30 and your ovulation is not regular, you may want to add a fertility pill. If you are over 30 and are hesitant about using fertility pills, the fact that your ovulation is regular may give you reassurance that you can try a couple cycles without fertility pills.
  6. See your doc for a preconception counseling appointment. Even though you’re using donor sperm you should still sit down with your doctor for a preconception counseling appointment. Review your medical history with your doctor as well as your family history. Consider genetic testing for cystic fibrosis and other diseases that you could possibly be at risk for. You can visit www.counsyl.com for more information about testing but this test has to be done through your doctor. Don’t forget to start folic acid.
  7. Known vs Anonymous donor. If you’re planning on using a known donor be sure to have a legal contract in place and discuss your situation with a psychologist with expertise in this area. If you are using an anonymous donor, I still recommend talking to a psychologist but a legal contract is obviously not necessary unless you are in a same sex relationship. I recommend a legal contract to protect both partners when starting a family.
  8. Required labwork. Talk to your fertility doc about the required labwork. States have different rules and clinics also set their own different rules.  For example, some clinics will require both partners to have infectious disease testing even though donor sperm is being used. If you know the requirements up front there won’t be any surprises.
  9. Do your research about which type of sample you should buy. There are different types of vials that you can buy. Ask your doctor which type of sample would be the best for the type of treatment you are doing.
  10. Know your insurance benefits. Just because you are using donor sperm doesn’t mean that your insurance won’t pay for your treatment. Being a same sex couple does not prevent you from using insurance to pay for your treatments. Get all the information first then start treatment. Being well-informed about costs upfront will allow you to just focus on treatment as you’re hopefully going through a successful treatment cycle.