Sperm Banking Background Fundamentals -Statistics

The following background information on sperm banking was prepared by and agreed upon by the leading companies in the industry. Its purpose is to provide basic information about some of the key elements of a sperm bank’s operations and influence, and to further understanding by providing accurate and consistent information.

Statistics: The popular press often cites the number of anonymous donor inseminated births per year at 30,000. Although no industry-wide statistics are maintained, an unpublished survey conducted by the AATB suggests that a more accurate figure would be 4,000 to 5,000 donor inseminated births per year. (This is calculated based on 1.5 vials per insemination, a 10% pregnancy rate per cycle, and a 20% spontaneous miscarriage rate.) By extrapolating this annual figure, the total number of anonymous donor inseminated births is estimated to be less than 130,000 over the last 30 years.

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Sperm Banking Background Fundamentals -Regulation

The following background information on sperm banking was prepared by and agreed upon by the leading companies in the industry. Its purpose is to provide basic information about some of the key elements of a sperm bank’s operations and influence, and to further understanding by providing accurate and consistent information.

Regulation: Sperm banking, which includes the screening and testing of sperm donors, is an increasingly regulated activity. Effective on May 25, 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commenced its regulation of reproductive tissue banks (21 CFR Part 1271). The FDA’s regulatory focus includes standards for the screening and testing of donors and proper record keeping procedures. Since these regulations became effective, all major sperm banks have been audited for compliance by the FDA through on-site inspections. FDA inspections will be performed on a continuing basis.

In addition to federal regulation, most major sperm banks are also licensed and inspected by several states, particularly New York, California, and Maryland. Licensing by state agencies began as early as 1992.

Although not having the force of law, sperm banks also have conducted operations consistent with the guidelines and/or standards of professional organizations such as the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB).

Notwithstanding the regulatory oversight of government agencies and professional associations, most sperm banks have exercised self-regulation consistent with the highest medical and ethical standards. In fact, most major sperm banks were performing more than all the tests required by the FDA several years prior to the FDA’s effective date, and with greater frequency than required by the FDA and other regulatory agencies.

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ASRM Fact Sheet on Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

From the American Society for Reproductive Medicine:

When is IUI helpful? 

There are many reasons why couples experience difficulty having a baby. IUI may be useful for some of them.

Female infertility. Women who do not release an egg regularly (ovulate) may take medications to help them ovulate regularly. These women may need IUI to time insemination at about the same time as ovulation. Also, IUI is helpful when a woman’s cervix has scarring that prevents the sperm from entering the uterus from the vagina. This may be seen in women who have had surgery on their cervix (cryosurgery, cone biopsy, LEEP, etc.).

Infertile women sometimes take medications (by mouth or as an injection) that cause their ovaries to produce several eggs at once. These women appear to have a better chance of getting pregnant if they also have IUI.

Read More about IUI HERE

CLI Blog smallASRM is an excellent resource for reproductive facts. Please check out their patient resources website at http://www.reproductivefacts.org/.

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The sooner the better: Age and Fertility

More women are having babies over the age of 35 than ever before. Yet from a biological perspective, it is best to start trying before you reach 35. Here are some of the reasons why:

Your age affects fertility
Fertility starts to decline for women at about the age of 30, dropping down more steeply after the age of 35. After age 35 years, the proportion of women who experience infertility increases. By the age of 40 only two in five of those who wish to have a baby will be able to do so. Even for those who are using in vitro fertilization, the success of women using their own eggs has remained steady.

The chart below shows your chances of getting pregnant according to your age. The chart is only a guide. It shows average figures for women in the best of health.

Fertility and age

Source: Management of the Infertile Woman by Helen A. Carcio and The Fertility Sourcebook by M. Sara Rosenthal

Why fertility declines
The two most common causes of female infertility are ovulation problems and blockage of the fallopian tubes. Ovulation problems can happen as you get older because you have fewer good quality eggs left, making it more difficult to conceive. As you approach menopause, your periods may become irregular, making ovulation irregular too. A few women (1%) go through menopause earlier than usual and stop ovulating before they reach the age of 40. Blockages to the fallopian tubes may be caused by infection or endometriosis. Fibroids are more common in women over 30 and may cause fertility problems for some women. Even the extra weight women put on as they age can make it more difficult to become pregnant. Age and fertility are most certainly linked and if there is anything we can do to help make your family plans a reality, we are here to help.

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Forum Lingo

Technology has opened the world to a whole new form of communication. The CLI Family Forums offer the opportunity to connect with other people who have utilized donor sperm to start a family. This is a great resource for those who are just starting their insemination journey. However, the medical terminology can be overwhelming and the abbreviations used by forum members can make it even more confusing.

Here are a few of the most common abbreviations used in the forum discussion boards:

SMC: Single Mother by Choice

dh/dw/dd/ds/dp: a reference to members of one’s family such as dear husband, dear wife, dear daughter, dear son, dear partner

TTC: Trying To Conceive / Time To Conceive

BBT: Basal Body Temperature – used to pinpoint when ovulation has occurred and determine future patterns for predicting ovulation

RE: Reproductive Endocrinologist – a doctor that identifies and treats infertility

2WW/TWW: Two week wait – this is the time between the end of your fertility treatment cycle and the test that confirms pregnancy

HPT: Home Pregnancy Test

POAS: Pee On A Stick – in reference to taking a home pregnancy test

hCG: Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – hormone produced by the body that pregnancy tests use to establish positive results

BFP: Big Fat Positive – Pregnant

BFN: Big Fat Negative – Not Pregnant

PM: Private message – Electronic message similar to an e-mail but is viewed only through the forum

CLI BlogNow that you have learned some of the donor sperm lingo, check out the CLI Family Forums to put it to good use. It’s a fun way to interact with others online.

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Disclosure and Openness: To Tell or Not to Tell

Blog written by Director of Operations Fairfax Cryobank Michelle Ottey, PhD

It is the choice of a child’s parents to disclose the details of their conception, as well as to decide the degree of information that is shared. This is an incredibly personal decision. Since 2004 the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Ethics Committee, the national organization representing fertility specialists, has supported full disclosure. I agree with the committee and several other sources that state that disclosure is in the best interest of the child. Secrecy is not healthy and can lead to emotional stress.

Several options for donor selection are available, some for over 20 years. A prospective parent can choose from an anonymous sperm donor, an ID consent sperm donor or a directed (known) donor. Directed donors, because they are known to the recipient, allow an option for disclosure of the identity of the donor at the discretion of the recipient. The ID donor programs vary by sperm bank, but for the most part this means that upon reaching the age of 18 your prospective child will have the option to obtain contact information for the donor from the sperm bank. This does not guarantee a relationship or sustained contact with the donor, simply that they have agreed to be contacted.

It is important to understand that at most banks you can obtain all of the same detailed information about the anonymous donor with the only difference being the release of identifying information if you choose an ID donor. This means that regardless of the category of donor you choose you will have access to the same comprehensive medical history, personal profile, and usually some additional information via interviews or pictures.

An added advantage that using either an anonymous or ID sperm donor allows you is the opportunity to have half siblings connect. The natural curiosity that children have can in many ways be addressed by contact with a half sibling; these siblings discover their shared characteristics and interests that may be similar to the donor. Several sperm banks have developed their own online forums to discuss issues of disclosure, address common concerns and even facilitate these contacts among families that used the same donors.

As the use of donor insemination increases and families are more open there will be increased acceptance. We have already seen a growth in resources for families from the release of children’s books to a plethora of websites about and for DI families.

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New to Infertility

Blog written by Laboratory Staff MF

Infertility and the need for reproductive assistance are issues that not every person in the general public has to face, but those that do understand the heartache, worry, and pain that go along with it. As a relatively young and healthy twenty something, I never imagined that infertility would touch my life and become so integrated into what I do on a daily basis.

My introduction to infertility began seven months ago when I was hired as a Laboratory Technician at the cryobank. On a daily basis I process, freeze, and store the semen samples produced by donors and clients in the hopes that these specimens will be able to help in the conception and birth of a child at some point in the future. The steps that go into processing and preparing specimens for freezing may seem like simple and everyday tasks to some, but when I think about the hope and joy that the job I am doing will provide to others I couldn’t be more elated and proud of the work we do here. I never realized how many individuals are affected by the inability to have children, and am grateful that I am able to be a small part of what may help build families in the future. Fertility and its preservation are important issues.

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Fertility Options for Same Sex Options

Blog written by Michelle Ottey, PhD, CLI Director of Operations

When two women partner and decide to build a family, there is a lot to consider: known donor, sperm donor (anonymous or ID), foster, foster to adopt, adopt, etc. If the choice is made to proceed with a sperm donor, many couples first face the emotional and psychological issue of needing a third party in order to build a family.

Having a child is an intimate and incredible personal process, and bringing a sperm donor into that process can be a challenging part of the journey.

When ready to proceed, it is important to know that you are working with a company that is friendly, professional, and open. Sperm banks know that lesbians, single and partnered, make up a large percentage of their patient demographic. So, the majority of banks are well-informed, accepting, open, and able to serve all patients equally. Perhaps one day we will live in a society where sexuality or relationship status will not make a difference in how patients are treated, but for now we must each navigate our way through these processes ensuring equal treatment and sensitivity.

To proceed and use a sperm donor, women should consider what qualities are important: education, height, hair and eye color, ethnicity, ID option, etc. Finding the perfect sperm donor match varies for each individual or couple; some find that perfect sperm donor on their first visit to a Sperm Donor Search. For others, it takes weeks to go through the details.

For lesbians, like single women, the decision to disclose a child’s donor origin can be more obvious than for traditional heterosexual couples. Still, some opt not to disclose. This is an important consideration in the journey to parenthood. I have heard from many women — the decision to disclose is incredibly personal.

Overwhelmingly, the message has been that when this is a part of a child’s story from the beginning, the easier the message is received. There will always be questions, and there is no single right way to tell this story. Thankfully, over time more resources emerge that assist families in telling their story.

CLI BlogThough it often takes more effort, time and money to have children in this way, the end result is most often a beautiful and happy family.

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Fun on the Forum

The CLI Family Forums are a great place to connect with others going through the donor insemination process.

Check out some of these fun conversations from the forums:

Pregnant with 2961

“Hey there. I’m pregnant with 2961 and would love to be in touch with anyone who has also used 2961. Thanks so much.”

“I have a beautiful five month old girl with this donor and I could not ask for anything better! :D

“I have a 6 week old girl with this donor.”

“We have an amazing 1 year old daughter… Would love to hear from others with kiddos from 2961”

What to do, what to do…

“I am a single mom, with three kids… when I was little I always wanted a big family! I wanted 5-6 kids, see there was just me and my bratty sister, and I wanted more in my life!  I had my 3 with my ex-husband, and lets just say he is no longer in the picture… so my kids and I are doing great! BUT I still want those 2 more babies… ”

“Well, I for one do not think you are crazy! At least if you are, then I am much more so!! :lol:
I’ve been on my own now for almost four years raising my four boys. My oldest is 19, almost 20 – and my youngest is 10. I always wanted to have more kids, and love being a mom. ”

“I chose to have my son by myself with donor sperm. I jsut wanted to introduce myself and tell you that there is a HUGE support system out there for Single Mom By Choice.”

CLI BlogJoin the CLI Family Forums today and start your own conversations!


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We want to tell you about CLI

As a child or adult conceived with the use of donor sperm, you may have many questions. We would like to help you answer some of them by sharing some of the details about how our sperm bank selects donors, offers donor sperm to women and couples, and handles requests for more information about donors.

We want to tell you about CLI. We have been around a long time, since the early 1970s. CLI was the first sperm bank started in the US and has observed many changes over the years. In the early days before sperm banks were available, it was not unusual for a doctor to offer fresh semen from a donor he selected on behalf of an infertile couple. Information on the donor was often kept secret and little was known about his medical or personal history. The use of donor sperm today is very different. Sperm banks make every effort to select healthy, educated donors who share many health-related and personal details about themselves. Our sperm bank will receive some 200 applications for each donor we ultimately select. It is more difficult to become a sperm donor than it is to be accepted into Harvard! If you want to read about the way we screen donors, go to the webpage about donor screening. You’ll see that the donors undergo many blood, urine and semen tests as well as answer many questions about their family social and health history.

The typical family who uses donor sperm is changing. Originally donor insemination was offered exclusively to married couples who were experiencing infertility. Today, infertile couples are still helped by donor sperm but other types of families are as well. Single women are increasingly choosing to have children on their own with the help of donor sperm. Same sex couples are, too. Where 20 years ago it was easier to keep the donor sperm story a secret, it is now much more obvious when a father is not around while a child is growing up. Children born from donor sperm are learning about the circumstances of their conception in ever increasing numbers. We estimate that now about 4,000 to 5,000 children a year are born in the US as the result of anonymous donor insemination.

In 2005, Cryogenic Laboratories (CLI) started a new program called the ID Options program in which new donors agree to release identifying information. We created this special category of donors because of the increased interest by families to have this option available. Identifying information, such as donor name and address, is shared only with the children who were conceived by an ID Options donor, whose mother registered their birth with our sperm bank and who then go on to request the information themselves when they reach the age of 18 or older. About 20% of our current donor list is ID Options. The other 80% are donors that have chosen to remain anonymous. Before 2005, all our donors were anonymous. The first children eligible for this ID Options information will reach the age of 18 in 2023.

Today, we ask all new donors if they want to be known. If they agree, they become an ID Options donor. If they decline, they will remain anonymous. All donors who began donating prior to 2005 signed an agreement with us in which we agreed to keep their identifying information private. Many families were created with the understanding that their specific donor would be anonymous forever, and they very much want this information to stay private. We have very specific understandings with donors and families that we will protect the information of not only the donor’s identity but also the identity of the families who used that sperm donor. Our policy is that once a donor is designated as an anonymous donor or an ID Options donor, his status cannot be changed, e.g. from an anonymous donor to an ID Options donor, or vice versa. Therefore, for our anonymous donors, we are not mediating contact between families and their donors.

There is a considerable amount of information we do have on our donors, both anonymous and ID Options, that is extremely valuable in learning about the donor as a person rather than a cold statistic. Donors today have audio interviews recorded, childhood photos, some have adult photos, and all have detailed medical and personal histories. Their ethnicity, talents, interests, and even their favorite color and song are presented. Donors who are no longer donating also have information saved. (See more about donor information on this webpage about donor information.) In addition, half siblings who are interested are able to connect with each other via various sites third parties set up for this purpose on the web. Although the donor may be unknown, half siblings often find shared traits that they determine are likely from their biological fathers. This discovery of sibling relationships, along with the extensive information already available on the donor, may help some children as they seek to learn more about their genetic heritage.

You may have questions about your donor’s motivations to be in our program. Typically donors are college students or recent graduates who have an interest in helping others. Some are married and may even have children of their own. They do receive some compensation (usually about $500 a month) for their time and effort. They must visit the laboratory on average one to two times a week for at least 6 months to donate sperm and agree to take dozens of blood draws over the course of their commitment. In addition, they must have regular physical examinations and agree to several face-to-face interviews with our staff. Donors are selected because they have shown us that they are dependable, responsible, trustworthy people. We do not inform donors if pregnancies result from the use of their sperm. Donors often move on to other life events and stop donating after about 6 months to a year in the program, although some continue longer.

Donor sperm from one donor usually results in several pregnancies over many years. Some families store units from the same donor in order to have biologically full siblings, so the age range of all the children from the same donor may be considerable. In accordance with the guidelines set by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), we strictly limit the number of donor units sent to the same geographic area. But since donor sperm is shipped all over the US and several other countries, the donor usually sells out before he reaches our distribution limit. It is highly unlikely you would ever meet another one of your half siblings randomly, (i.e., someone who was conceived with the exact same donor).

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