Donor Sperm

What is donor insemination?

Donor insemination (DI) is the process of inseminating a woman with sperm obtained from a known or anonymous donor. The procedure is usually performed in natural cycles without the use of any fertility medications. However, fertility medication may be recommended for women in their late 30's and older, and for those who have been unsuccessful with donor insemination in natural cycles, in order to increase the number of eggs for fertilization.

If insemination with donor sperm is unsuccessful, or if there are other fertility factors that indicate the need, in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor sperm may be performed.

Using Donor Sperm

Those who may choose to use donor sperm include:

  • Single or lesbian women
  • Those whose male partner has no recoverable sperm
  • Those who may want back up specimens for difficult cases of male factor infertility

Sperm donors may be known or anonymous. The type of donor one chooses is a highly personal decision, and will depend on any number of factors. Regardless of the type of donor chosen, various considerations and requirements apply.

  • Some women may choose to ask a friend to donate sperm. Because this option may raise sensitive questions and decisions in regards to parenting, a number of actions are required prior to receiving a sperm donation:

    • Counseling. Pacific Fertility Center requires that both parties involved in donor insemination attend at least one session of counseling with a family therapist or psychologist familiar with issues that may arise in this type of arrangement.
    • Sperm Donor and Intended Parent Legal Agreement. Prior to insemination, the female patient and donor must create a valid and notarized legal agreement or contract outlining parenting rights and responsibilities.
    • PFC strongly encourages both donor and recipient to seek legal advice before the insemination process.

    Recommended attorneys:

    State of California legal requirements:

    • According to California law Family Code 7613, 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.
    • Both sperm donor and recipient are required to sign an acknowledgement of California Family Code 7613, regardless of whether or not the donor is planning to participate in parenting.
    • Even in the event that the sperm donor may play some parental role, Family Code 7613 may supersede any such agreement.
    • Any other understandings between the donor and recipient of the donor sperm, even when a legal agreement is drafted, may or may not be enforceable in California.

Types of Sperm that May be Available from the Sperm Bank

There are 3 ways that sperm banks prepare their sperm.

If a patient has unintentionally purchased ICI sperm but need to have an IUI procedure, the sperm can be prepared for this purpose at our clinic, however this will result in extra cost and loss of some sperm in the preparation process.

Patients should only buy IUI sperm if a medical professional is performing their insemination.

The Physicians at PFC do not advocate that patients buy A.R.T. vials, regardless of the treatment. Because these vials contain fewer sperm than other types of samples, there is a higher risk that there will be insufficient sperm for our needs.

For in vitro fertilization, it is fine to buy ICI-prepared sperm, or if this is not available, IUI prepared sperm. The PFC lab needs to process any sperm that is used for IVF, so there is no need for the patient to pay the sperm bank to do the processing.

  • This sperm sample is not processed or prepared before it is frozen. As with ejaculated fresh semen, this sperm is placed in the vagina, close to the cervix, and the sperm swim into the uterus and fallopian tubes themselves. Patients who are doing a home insemination often purchase sperm prepared in this manner. This type of sample cannot be used by a physician to inject directly into the uterus, as the sample contains seminal fluid that can cause uterine contractions. If you are doing a home insemination, we suggest that you purchase ICI-prepared sperm samples that will thaw with at least 15 million live sperm per vial.

General advice when purchasing from sperm banks

Because sperm banks may overestimate the number of live sperm after thawing, we always recommend that patients purchase more vials than they think you need. This way, we thaw additional sperm if necessary. We suggest patients have a minimum of 2 vials available for any insemination or IVF cycle. PFC will only accept and store up to 4 vials of donor sperm at a time.

Because sperm needs to be shipped to PFC at least 1 week ahead of any procedure, it is important to plan ahead. In this way, we can make other arrangements should any shipping problems occur, and hopefully maintain the patient's treatment schedule as planned.

Be advised that should a sample vial thaw with fewer sperm than promised by the sperm bank, their liability is limited only to the cost of replacing the vial.

Shipping frozen sperm to PFC

We receive deliveries of frozen sperm from the banks several times a week.

At PFC, our staff will help our patients with the process of shipping sperm; and will put the shipment on our laboratory schedule so we know when to expect the delivery. Our Tissue Bank Manager will also complete paperwork with the patient to ensure that PFC will store their sperm for the length of time needed. Our staff can also assist our patients with sperm transfer and consents. Cryopreservation of Sperm and Transfer of Sperm consents must be completed prior to the shipping of sperm to PFC.

PFC accepts shipments or drop off deliveries Monday – Friday, 9 am – 2 pm. No specimens are accepted on weekends or holidays.

Where to Purchase Anonymous Donor Sperm

We provide our patients with a list of sperm banks that supply anonymous donor sperm. We have worked with all of these sperm banks and have found their sperm quality and customer service to be satisfactory. These banks do a good job in providing a wide variety of donors from all backgrounds. Please contact us for more information about these sperm banks.

The given sperm bank will provide patients with an "authorization" form that must be signed by a physician in order to establish your account. After this point, they may purchase as much sperm as needed.

Please note the following Pacific Fertility Center requirements for those using an anonymous sperm donor:

  • We accept sperm only from sperm banks within the United States.
  • All donors used in the USA must be screened for infectious diseases according to rules implemented by the FDA.
  • All testing of sperm donors must be by FDA approved test methods and by FDA registered labs.
  • The sperm banks themselves must be licensed and inspected by the FDA.
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