The thought never crossed your mind…until recently. You were focused on staying alive after that brutal bout with cancer. And now, some years later, your lovely partner is gazing at you with that wide and knowing smile and you realize that it’s time to have kids.
But reality settles in, and you both realize that you have no sperm. Fertility preservation or restoration techniques cannot help and a full biological child is not possible. Since artificial sperm from stem cells is not yet available, you decide on donor sperm. Here is some top-down advice for you as you take this path:
- There are two sources of donor sperm: “anonymous” and “known.” Anonymous donor sperm is typically obtained from commercial sperm banks. Known donors can be friends or relatives (intrafamilial).
- If you are considering known donors, psychological screening of you, your partner and the donor and the donor’s partner is highly recommended to “keep the peace” among relationships as things move forward.
- Realize that sperm from commercial banks is very, very safe. Trust me, this field is highly FDA regulated. Donors are extensively screened for 1) familial cancers and inherited disorders, 2) normal semen quality, and 3) a large panel of sexually transmitted diseases (repeatedly). Maybe that is why fewer than 5% of less than 5% of the men attempting to become sperm donors are chosen.
- Many personality and appearance features found in the description of banked sperm donors are not reliably passed on to recipients as these tend to be complex genetic traits. You are much better served basing your selection of a donor on more genetically simple traits such as ethnicity, hair and eye color.
- Donor sperm is generally used with “low tech” assisted reproduction, also called IUI or intrauterine insemination. Timed to the ovulation, the insemination is a quick office procedure that is similar in complexity to a PAP smear.
- Pregnancy rates with anonymous donor sperm approach that of normal fertile couples.
- Early on, consider banking enough sperm to build an entire family, as sperm from the same donor may not be available later on. Sperm banks typically “pull” a donor’s sperm off market after a certain number of pregnancies.
- A donor sperm pregnancy is typically 10 times cheaper and occurs 5 times faster than the typical adoption process.
- You and your partner should discuss and agree upon whether or not you will eventually disclose the use of donor sperm with your child.
- The vast majority of couples who chose the donor sperm route have absolutely no regrets and are typically thrilled by how much the child resembles them.
Like life itself, family building is a path that is best taken by making well-informed decisions. Make you always walk on the greenest of mosses.