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How Many Vials of Donor Sperm Will I Need?
a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Laboratory Director for Fairfax Cryobank, June 27, 2013
Often we are asked how many tries are in a vial of donor sperm. The short answer is that one vial equals one try. Sperm Banks split the Sperm Donor’s sample into several cryovials dependent on the volume, count, and motility of his fresh analysis.
Sperm Banks provide various prep types of the donor sperm; Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Intracervical Insemination (ICI), IVF (in vitro fertilization), and ART (artificial reproductive technology). IUI prep is a pre-washed sample, meaning that the seminal fluid is washed out of the sperm sample; this can be a simple wash or a gradient wash that allows the lab to separate highly motile sperm from non-sperm cells and debris that is normally found in semen samples. Once washed, freeze media is added to the sample and frozen. IUI samples are used for IUI procedures where the sperm sample is thawed and inserted through the cervix into the uterus.
ICI prep and IVF prep are frozen after analysis and the addition of the freeze media; these samples contain seminal fluid. The ICI prep samples are used for insemination in which the sample is placed onto the cervix. ART samples vary from bank to bank, but generally speaking, they are used for IVF procedures, as are the IVF prep vials.
Most IUI and ICI vials have a minimum of 10 million Total Motile Cells (TMC) in the vial, and IVF or ART vials have a minimum of 5 million TMC. IVF and ART prep vials have less sperm because IVF requires fewer cells than insemination. Some clinics will also combine two ART/IVF vials to do an insemination.
As always, I recommend that you speak to your doctor about your specific needs based on your fertility status. With no female infertility issues, under the age of 35, a woman has approximately a 20% chance of achieving pregnancy each month. Every so often a woman will achieve pregnancy on her first try. It often takes several cycles of insemination before the procedure results in pregnancy. In my experience most women order 2-3 vials per order, others order several more because they are looking ahead and planning for a sibling using the same sperm donor. You can purchase and ship to your clinic or you can purchase and store at the Sperm Bank. Storing at the Sperm Bank allows you to return unused vials for a refund whereas storing off site means you cannot return unused vials.