We are so excited to have our DC-based physician, Dr. Anitha Nair, as a guest on the January 17th episode of Anderson discussing donor sperm. As seen on ABC News and 20/20 there has been a trend of individuals circumventing the medical community and using unregulated donor sperm – some even generated and distributed out of an individual’s home. This is alarming for a number of reasons, and those needing donor sperm should make sure to do their research.
“The use of donor sperm from an anonymous or known donor who has not been screened for disease can pose significant health risks. The educated consumer should be wary that not all sperm banks are equal. It is recommended that the following screening and protocols have been performed by the sperm bank,” says Nair.
Where should you get donor sperm?
For patients seeking an anonymous donation there are several national certified sperm banks, including Fairfax Cryobank and California Cryobank. Those with known donors should contact their physician.
What should you be looking out for?
Disease risk and sperm quality. Certified sperm banks and fertility practices will screen donors for infectious disease risk, such as HIV and Hepatitis, and genetic disease. In addition to the screening for disease risk, knowing the sperm quality – and how likely it is to yield a successful pregnancy – is also a key to a good sperm donation. At Shady Grove Fertility, we test the sperm for sperm count (how many), motility (how much movement), and morphology (shape). You should never use a sperm sample – known or anonymous – without having it tested.
What treatment will you have with donor sperm?
Having the healthy sperm is only half of it what is needed to get pregnant. You will need to be tested for ovarian and fallopian tube function and egg quality. If the female screening is normal, intrauterine insemination (IUI), will likely be the treatment. If the female screening shows conditions such as fallopian tube damage, it may be necessary to move to treatment such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
How common is the use of donor sperm?
It has immortalized in recent movies such as The Switch and The Back-Up Plan and has been a topic of world-wide conversation for decades now, but when looking at how commonplace the use of donor sperm is, just look at all the groups of people that need it to achieve their dream of parenthood. Donor sperm is also only option for many single women, women in lesbian couples, and women whose male partner is experiencing severe male infertility. In 2011 at Shady Grove Fertility, we did about 1350 IUIs with donor sperm, 23% of all IUI cycles. With donor sperm being used in about 1 in 4 IUI cycles, it is more common that you might have thought.
So if you think donor sperm is the right option for you, make sure that you visit certified sperm banks and discuss the option thoroughly with your physician before taking that next step.