Many individuals who may not have otherwise been able to conceive due to male factor infertility or lack of a male partner, are able to achieve their dream of conceiving children through donor sperm insemination. Couples often choose this option when the husband/partner has no sperm or a very poor semen analysis (azoospermia, oligospermia, poor motility), or when there is the risk of a genetic problem that could be inherited from the male. Single women and women in a same-sex partnership who want a biological child also choose insemination via sperm donation.
Patients should be psychologically ready to proceed with donor insemination. CORM recommends that anyone considering donor insemination see a counselor who is skilled at clarifying feelings about infertility and using a sperm donor. For couples, it’s important that both partners feel comfortable with their decision and that any concerns and questions are talked about beforehand. For some, donor insemination may raise certain moral or ethical questions; for others, the journey may revolve more around choosing the right sperm bank and selecting the best donor to acheive their family building goals.
Reasons to Use Donor Sperm
At the Center of Reproductive Medicine, our team of fertility specialists at our four clinics throughout the Houston metropolitan region will help you decide if donor sperm is the right option for you. Contact CORM today if you are:
- A single woman who wants to conceive a biological child via a sperm donor
- A female in a same-sex partnership who wants a biological child
- A male who produces sperm that is unlikely to fertilize an egg
- A male who has a high risk of passing on an inherited disease
- A male who produces little or no sperm
- A male who has had a vasectomy and testicular biopsy is not an option
Types of Sperm Donors
Many potential parents consider asking a friend or relative to be a sperm donor. For instance, a partner’s brother or cousin could agree to donate his sperm so that both parents would have a biological connection to their baby. With a known donor, a child can know his/her biological dad and allow them to have a lifelong connection. This dynamic must be explored with the donor at length, including the degree of involvement both parties envision. Most sperm banks recruit a certain percentage of donors who agree to the option of becoming “known” to potential offspring when they reach 18 years of age.
While some potential parents want their children to have the option of meeting their biological father, others don’t believe this is necessary. Traits such as race, religion, complexion, education, and family medical history are often available through a sperm bank’s database, but the identity of an anonymous sperm donor is not disclosed. Likewise, donors relinquish parental rights to any children conceived via their sperm donation and the identity of the potential parents and children remains confidential.
At CORM, individuals and couples have the right to decide which sperm bank to use as well as the freedom to select a donor of their choosing. Based on our experience and high standards, we recommended that our patients consider purchasing donor sperm from either California Cryobank or Fairfax Cryobank. Donors are handpicked and screened intensely before being accepted into their donor program. Less than 1% of all applicants make it through the selection process. Potential donors are subjected to an exhaustive medical, genetic, and psychological screening, as well as a detailed examination of background and family medical history.
Prior to starting donor insemination, a careful medical and reproductive history should be taken on the woman and a rubella titer, blood type, and antibody test for CMV should be administered. If the woman tests negative for CMV, only a CMV-negative donor should be used.
Donor insemination involves inseminating the woman as close as possible to the time of ovulation. Our physicians may want to document normal ovulation patterns and may order a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to document that the woman's fallopian tubes are open. Many women monitor their ovulatory cycles by testing their urine for an LH surge, which indicates that ovulation will soon take place. The procedure is usually done about 24 hours after a surge of LH is noted on the urine test.
Most Effective Techniques
At Center of Reproductive Medicine, we perform the most effective techniques to increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy for patients using donor sperm:
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine Insemination is often used to increase success rates with frozen sperm. Some sperm banks process the sperm for intrauterine insemination before shipping. If not, the thawed specimen is processed to remove the seminal plasma from around the sperm cells (Intrauterine insemination without doing this process would cause uterine cramping and possible allergic response). After the sperm is processed, it is injected, using a syringe and thin catheter, into the uterus via the cervix. The insemination is usually painless; some women who have a tight cervical opening experience cramping if an instrument (tenaculum) is used to open the cervix.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In Vitro Fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, is the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and sperm outside of the body within a fluid medium in a Petri dish. When the IVF procedure is successful, the process is combined with a procedure known as embryo transfer, which involves physically placing the embryo in the uterus.
Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer (GIFT)
Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer is an assisted reproductive procedure which involves retrieving a woman’s eggs, combining them with sperm and immediately placing them into a fallopian tube. One of the main differences between this procedure and the in vitro fertilization (IVF) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) procedures is that the fertilization process takes place inside the fallopian tube rather than in a laboratory. However, healthy fallopian tubes are necessary for GIFT to be effective.
Zygote Intra Fallopian Transfer (ZIFT)
Zygote Intra Fallopian Transfer is an assisted reproductive procedure similar to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer, the difference being that the fertilized embryo is transferred into the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Because the fertilized egg is transferred directly into the tubes, the procedure is also referred to as tubal embryo transfer (TET). This procedure can be more successful than gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) because your physician has a greater chance of insuring that the egg is fertilized. The woman must have healthy fallopian tubes for ZIFT to be effective. The main difference between ZIFT and GIFT is that ZIFT transfers a fertilized egg directly into the fallopian tubes while GIFT utilizes a mixture of eggs and sperm.
Intercytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Intercytoplasmic Sperm Injection is an assisted reproductive procedure most commonly used to overcome male infertility problems, although it may occasionally be used where eggs cannot easily be penetrated by sperm. ICSI is used to enhance the fertilization phase of in vitro fertilization (IVF) by injecting a single sperm into a mature egg. The fertilized egg is then placed in a woman's uterus or fallopian tube.
Making the Dream of Family a Reality Since 1993
Starting or expanding your family using donor insemination or sperm storage is a leap into the unknown. Working with the Center of Reproductive Medicine is like having a trusted friend by your side on your journey to parenthood. Our knowledgeable and compassionate staff will answer your questions and guide you to resources to help you make important decisions that will affect your family for years to come.