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Sperm Donation - Finding a Sperm Donor
Donated sperm can be used in a variety of ways to help single women and couples build biological or genetic families.
Who Are Candidates for Donated Sperm?
- Single women and lesbian couples. The sole means for women without male partners to become biological parents is via donated sperm or a donated embryo.
- Heterosexual couples in which the male is sterile, has a low sperm count or poor sperm quality. In fact, in about 40 percent of infertile couples, the male’s sperm is the sole or contributing factor.
- Couples who want to avoid passing on a genetic disease or disorder that is carried by the male’s sperm.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) with donated sperm, where a doctor inserts the sperm into the woman’s uterus, has been in practice for over a century. But today, donated sperm is used in a variety of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), including in vitro fertilization (IVF), where the egg and sperm are fertilized in a laboratory and implanted in the woman’s uterus, gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and in surrogacy or gestational carriers.
Finding a Sperm Donor
Sperm banks (cryobanks) are the most common source of donated sperm. However, some women turn to a trusted male friend or relative for sperm, or seek a male donor with specific characteristics via newspaper and website ads. All U.S. sperm banks freeze the donated sperm for later use. They’re required to test the sperm for HIV and other transmittable diseases and to keep samples frozen for six months or more and then retest the donors.
When selecting a sperm donor, you may look for one with ideal traits for your hoped-for child, such as chocolate brown eyes or a high IQ. While sperm banks can match sperm for such characteristics, along with race and ethnicity, you first need to decide if you want an “anonymous” sperm donor or one willing to reveal his identity at a later date. Each choice has its pros can cons. Using a sperm bank usually means the sperm donor will be anonymous, although many now require donors to sign documents agreeing to make their identities known to the future child at a certain age, usually at age 18. You should check the sperm bank’s policies on anonymity.
Regardless of where you obtain donor sperm, experts recommend that you and/or your partner meet with a licensed counselor to discuss your feelings and options.