Things to consider:
1. What cryobank is best for you, my clinic recommended the following places. This is by no means an official list.
2. What is important in a sperm donor?
Do you want to go with a local cryobank (if available) or a bank that is further away?
Are you Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Positive/Negative?
What characteristics are most important? Health, education, appearance - some sites offer Facematch if you would like your donor to look like someone in particular.
ID option or anonymous donor?
Semen prep type? Depending on the what procedure you are undergoing, the clinic should tell you what preparation type to purchase. Below are descriptions of each type from the Fairfax Cryobank website.
- IUI and IUI ART: intrauterine or prewashed specimens. IUI ready specimens are prepared by washing the fresh ejaculate specimen to remove the seminal plasma prior to freezing.
- ICI and ICI Art: intracervical, standard or unwashed specimen. ICI specimens contain seminal plasma and require additional processing if used in procedures other than intracervical insemination.
- IVF: in vitro fertilization, unwashed specimens. IVF specimens contain seminal plasma and may require additional processing. IVF specimens may be combined to increase sperm count numbers and can be used in an insemination.
- ART: vials have a slightly lower sperm total motile cell count (TMC) than IUI and ICI vials is >6 million TMC per vial. ART vials can be used individually or combined for insemination.
3. Semen washing? Do you want the semen washed at the cryobank or would you prefer to wait for the vital to arrive at your clinic and have them wash it?
4. How much should you buy?
Do you want to have more than 1 child and if so, it is important to you that they are genetically full siblings?
How many vials should you purchase for treatment(s)?
If you purchase more than 1 vial, should it all be sent up to your clinic to save on shipping?
There is so much to think about, selecting a sperm donor can feel like an overwhelming task in the already overwhelming world of infertility. However, things seem to fall into place once you find “the one” if you are going at this journey alone (it is completely not the way you ever imagined finding “the one”) or with a partner here you are making your dream of parenthood come true and for that you are nothing short of a brave, courageous, badass.
Through this “journey” I have learned way more about semen than I ever cared to know. As a single lady, I think to myself “How will I ever be intimate again without thinking, do you know how much that is worth? Next time I am in that situation and encounter semen, it will take everything in my power not to say, let’s bottle that stuff up and sell it, we could get an easy thousand (this is all sarcastic of course).”
Anyhow, here is the story of how I found “the one”.
I had decided when I was in my early 30s, if I didn’t find a traditional “the one” by 35, I was going to start trying on my own with assistance of a fertility clinic. Thirty-five came and went, I knew that being a mom is something I have wanted all my life, however the thought of selecting a sperm donor along with everything else was daunting. I pushed it off a year and started when I was thirty-six. One March day, once I had completed most of the testing and preparation my Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) had suggested I do, I was ready to select a sperm donor. I began by checking the websites from the list of cryobanks provided by my clinic. They provided one local cryobank (not listed) and the rest were out of state. I eliminated the local one right off the bat, thoughts of my children dating and having to ask them if their boyfriend/girlfriend was conceived via a sperm donor or did they happen to know if the father was ever a sperm donor; is not a conversation I want to have. So that left me with 3 options.
As I checked out each website, I looked at how thoroughly they tested and vetted their donors, then at the donors, and third the cost. Once I selected the cryobank right for me, I needed to decide how much information I wanted about the donors and let me just say cryobanks nickel and dime you, each bank is different, the bank I went with at the time offered donor information a la cart or you could purchase the 1 year club membership that gave you access to everything along with discounts on semen - because every child wants to know part of them was purchased on sale…I'm already winning at motherhood.
Next, I needed to select a donor. For me health (and family health history) and education were most important. I was also worried about addiction, it is very prevalent in my family and I didn’t want to add to that already raging gene pool. However, it is not a criterion that is noted within all the rest of the characteristics they report on, such as favorite pets?? I will never know why favorite pets is a characteristic for selecting donors but very thorough, I suppose. One of the biggest things that eliminated many donors was the fact that I am CMV negative, my RE informed me I needed to choose a CMV negative donor being I am.
I then needed to choose if I wanted my future child/children to have the ability to meet their biological father once they turn 18. I knew right away that I did want them to have that option if they choose. I narrowed the field down further by only looking at ID option donors. All that brought me to a handful of candidates. So over milk and Easter Oreos (it was a very romantic selection process) I narrowed it down to 2 people, the site I was on did provide photos (both child and adult), background and a short interview recording along with a few other things. Once I heard the potential candidates, I knew who I wanted to go with and proceeded with ordering. I was not ready to have anything sent to my clinic, but I had secured the semen!
Once I was ready for my first IUI, I called the cryobank to send up 2 vials, when going through IUIs my clinic had me go in two consecutive days for insemination. They had to ship the vials and of course there is a fee, as if almost $1,000 isn’t already enough for a pea sized amount of semen, you have to pay for them to overnight ship it to your clinic which for me was around $250. I decided to keep the rest of the vials with the bank, the membership package I selected includes a few years of storage, however each time I need to send a vial(s) to my clinic it is $40 for them to pull the vital(s) out of storage plus, the shipping fee. If I would have it all shipped to my clinic it would have been an additional storage fee. Plus, I ended up switching clinics after a year of trying with them. So that would have been an added headache.
I decided, going at this alone and wanting 2 kids, I would like them to be fully biologically related if possible, as they won’t have a father figure in their life (well at least not in the immediate future). Therefore, I purchased enough vials for 3 IUIs (that was the number my RE told me they would do before moving on to IVF) and 2 IVF cycles, being I was now part of the "cryobank club" (the membership level I purchased) I received 1 vial free. I have since needed to purchase additional vials (as I have been through more than two rounds of IVF) and had to be waitlisted due to the demand for the donor’s sperm, which is not that fun when you want to move forward. The donor I chose is still active, so it only took about a month or two for more to become available. The donor process is for the male to donate, the cryobank tests the specimen, they then store it for 6 months before testing it again. If it passes all the tests, the semen becomes available and depending morbid sperm count, it is categorized and available for purchase.
When I went in for my IUIs they had me sign-off that it was the correct donor and they provided me with the morbid sperm count. My first IUI a total of 48 million sperm was injected (I am not really sure what the correct term is for that but injected seems applicable), the subsequent IUIs, the most injected over the two days was around 28 million, I remember joking with the clinic nurse that I felt like those vials should have been discounted or this lovely donor gentleman should be reminded not to ejaculate 2 or 3 days before donating. Kidding, well sort of, I really wanted to get pregnant and not have to move on to IVF.
Once I get pregnant, I will need to report it to the cryobank as they only allow 25 pregnancies before the donor is available for sibling purchase only.
Anyway, that is my long story of my sperm donor experience.