Q&A about donor sperm

If you are thinking about donor sperm insemination as a way to build your family, The National Infertility Association says you should consider the following questions:

  • Does the clinic have its own sperm bank? If not, which sperm banks does the practice or clinic use?
  • Does the clinic provide a list of sperm banks?

If the clinic provides the donor sperm, ask the clinic the following questions:

  • Does the clinic use samples from a commercial sperm bank or does it have its own donors?
  • Does the clinic/sperm bank follow the donor sperm guidelines of ASRM?
  • Which sperm banks do the practice or clinic use?
  • Does the clinic have a storage tank available for frozen sperm?
  • Will the clinic reserve and store additional samples of the patient’s donor for future cycles?
  • If you must make arrangements with a sperm bank, ask the sperm bank the following questions:

  • Do the banks follow the donor sperm guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)?
  • How many units of sperm does the clinic suggest you order from the sperm bank?
  • Does the practice or clinic have a storage tank available for frozen sperm and will the clinic store your donor sperm in cryostorage until needed?
  • Is there a storage fee charged by the clinic?
  • How long will the clinic store your donor sperm between treatment cycles?

Regardless of whether the donor sperm comes from a commercial sperm bank or from the clinic’s own donors, ask the following questions regarding the donor sperm:

  • Does the clinics or sperm bank follow the recommendations of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and use only frozen sperm?
  • What is the minimum age of the donors?
  • What is the maximum age of the donors?

Does the information about anonymous donors include:

  • Religious background
  • Educational background
  • Ethnic/cultural background
  • Physical characteristics
  • Race
  • Career/professional role
  • History of family
  • Does the clinic provide a list of sperm banks?

    Is a medical history kept of the donor? If so, for how long?

    Are donors screened or tested for following medical conditions?
    If so, what is the policy if the donor is found positive for any of these conditions?

    • Sickle Cell Anemia
    • Syphilis
    • Hepatitis B and C
    • Tay-Sachs Disease
    • HIV I and II
    • HTLV Type I and II
    • Thalassemia
    • Herpes
    • B-Strep
    • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
    • Genital Warts
    • Cystic Fibrosis
    • Gonorrhea
    • Chlamydia
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Mycoplasma

    Is the donor’s blood type checked? Women who are Rh negative will need a donor who is also Rh negative.

    Are donors screened for drug use?

    Is HIV testing done on donors? If so does the clinic or sperm bank follow the ASRM recommendation of holding specimens for 180 days and using the specimen only if the donor retests negative for the HIV virus?

    What genetic tests are done on the donor?

    Are Ashkenazi Jewish donors screened for the breast cancer gene (185delAG)?

    Are donors screned for the autosomal recessive disorder Alpha-1 antitrypsin?

    Are the number of pregnancies per donor tracked?

    Can adult children conceived through donor insemination (DI) gain access to the donor’s medical records if necessary?

    If the quality (motility and number of sperm specimen) is inadequate after thawing, what steps should the patient/clinic take?

    Does the clinic/sperm bank provide sperm that is ready for intrauterine insemination if requested?

    If requested, will the clinic/sperm bank work with a donor who the couple provides? If so, will they work with an out-of-state donor?

    Will the clinic/sperm bank store frozen sperm so that a couple can use the same donor for another child?

    What are the costs for storing sperm?

    Ask the clinic or doctor doing the insemination the following questions:

    • What is the cost of inseminations per cycle?
    • How many inseminations are done per cycle?
    • Are the inseminations cervical or intrauterine?

    Is intrauterine insemination (IUI) done with or without ovulation stimulating drugs? If hCG is used to trigger ovulation, when is IUI done?

    Does the practice do inseminations on weekends and holidays? If not, where does the practice refer patients?

    What types of legal documents/agreements are signed by the patient and physician? Ask your clinic for a sample of any documents or agreements that they use for DI in advance. If you have any questions,
    ask your lawyer to review the documents.

    Is counseling required for the couple or individual prior to using donor sperm?

    Does the clinic/sperm bank refer to a particular mental health provider for counseling?

    Does insurance cover all or part of the DI services? Does it include the counseling appointments?

    The information contained in this document is in no way intended to substitute for individual medical or legal advice. Discuss your situation with a qualified medical or legal professional.

    Source: RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association