For patients seeking to use donated sperm, either from a known or unknown donor, there are many factors to consider, including the donation source and storage to protect all your future options for parenthood. These are some of the most frequently asked questions about the sperm donation process. For more information, please contact us.
What is the difference between open sperm donors and anonymous sperm donors?
The level of a sperm donor’s anonymity is dependent on the chosen cryobank; some donors opt to be anonymous, or to have no contact with the recipient(s) of the sperm or the potential child or children. Other donors, who are open or quasi-open may allow for contact after the child or children are aged 18. It is important to note that these arrangements are exclusively through your chosen cryobank. Columbia University Fertility Center will not be privy to the identity of the donor; the cryopreserved donor sperm arrives at our center encoded by a number. It is also important to note that with evolving DNA technology, anonymity is not guaranteed; third party testing platforms such as Ancestry.com or 23andMe may allow parties to connect outside of the cryobank.
What is the process of using known sperm donor, such as a family member or friend?
Columbia University Fertility Center’s Third Party Reproduction team will guide you through this process. Using a known donor requires legal, psychosocial and cryobank involvement. We also require quarantining the frozen sperm for 6 months so the donor can be re-tested for infectious disease similar to anonymous sperm donors. Please consult with your physician if you would like to consider using a known sperm donor.
What are some considerations in selecting donor sperm?
- Genetics: Sperm donors are screened to determine if they are carriers for inheritable diseases. You will need to check with your individual sperm bank to find out what the donor has been tested for. In order to reduce the risk of having a child born with an inheritable condition, it is vital to ensure that both the egg source and sperm source are tested for the same mutations. Many cryobanks have in-house genetic counselors that are able to assess risk and determine compatibility.
- CMV Status: We recommend screening all donors for prior exposure to CMV (IgG positive) or possible recent exposure (IgM). If you are CMV IgG negative, it is recommend you choose a donor who is also CMV negative. If you choose to use a donor who is CMV positive, there is a very small theoretical risk of first CMV exposure in pregnancy, which has been associated with birth defects. If you are CMV positive, it is acceptable to choose a donor who is CMV positive or negative. Donors are also screened and quarantined for other infectious diseases through the cryobank by law.
- Washed versus Unwashed Sperm: Washing refers to the process where sperm is isolated from the seminal fluid in semen. It is vital that washed sperm be used in all IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) procedures. Unwashed samples will be washed at Columbia Fertility with an associated fee.
Additionally, Columbia Fertility recommends, but does not require, psychological counseling for all patients that use donor sperm. Referrals are available upon request.
How much does donor sperm usually cost?
The cost for donor sperm varies depending on the type of sperm donor chosen and the type of vial. Vials cost from $400-$1,000. Please confirm the cost directly with each cryobank.
The shipping cost of sending sperm to Columbia University Fertility Center is determined by the cryobank. Columbia Fertility's sperm intake fee per shipment is $150.
Sperm storage at Columbia Fertility is approximately $45 per month. Unless a patient completes a sperm sample disposition form, sperm will remain stored in the frozen state at Columbia Fertility.
Which sperm cryobanks does Columbia University Fertility Center recommend?
Columbia University Fertility Center regularly works with the below commercial cryobanks:
The above commercial sperm cryobanks are licensed by the New York State Department of Health and the FDA, which is a Columbia University Fertility Center requirement for Donor Sperm samples. However, please feel free to consult with your provider if there is another reputable commercial cryobank that you prefer.
How many vials should I/We order?
Please consult your provider or sperm bank regarding the type of vials(s) needed for your cycle type. It is advisable to order multiple vials for additional procedures and/or for potential sibling birth. The additional vials can be stored at the commercial cryobank and transported to Columbia Fertility as needed.
We recommend purchasing additional vials to maximize the possibility of using the same donor sperm in future cycles, if desired. The number of additional vials will depend on how many children you desire and the fertility treatment method used. The additional samples can be stored at the commercial sperm bank until needed.
Does the length of time that sperm has been frozen impact its viability?
Current research has not shown any negative long-term effects from using sperm that has been previously frozen. Sperm can be frozen indefinitely. Please consult your physician if you are interested in thawing and re-freezing donor sperm.