Healthy Babies

Blog written by Director of Client Development Michael Buuck, MS

If you want to avoid an awkward an uncomfortable situation, do not congratulate a woman on her pregnancy until after she’s told you she is pregnant. Fortunately, I haven’t made that mistake but I have recently congratulated a friend on her pregnancy (after she told me she was pregnant).

One of the questions I asked her was if she would prefer to have a boy or girl. She said she didn’t care as much about the sex of the baby as long as he or she was healthy. Having a healthy baby is something all expectant mothers want and it’s also a desire for the many women who choose to become pregnant through the use of donor sperm. Women who elect to use donor sperm want to know that the donor they choose has been fully tested and screened, so they can increase their chances of having a healthy baby.

To assure that all donors are healthy, sperm banks have an extensive screening process which is intentionally designed to be rigorous and exclude any applicants that don’t meet the high standards and qualifications. This screening process involves a lengthy health questionnaire; physical exam; medical, genetic and infectious disease testing; a thorough sperm quality evaluation and several in-person interviews with staff. The process results in less than 1% of donor applicants being accepted as donors.

In the general population, every pregnancy has about a 3%-4% risk of producing a child with a birth defect or mental deficiency. The screening and testing of donors reduces that risk but cannot eliminate it. Sperm banks provide as much donor information as possible, so prospective mothers can make an informed choice. If someone tells me they are considering using donor sperm, I assure them that sperm banks are committed to providing donor sperm that produce healthy babies.

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Stress may hinder fertility chances

Blog written by CLI Family Forum Moderator Desiree

It is well known that excessive, chronic stress can negatively affect the health of our bodies. Deciding to start a family is a very big decision and life change for many people. It is only natural to start feeling some anxiety and increased tension after several unsuccessful tries to conceive a child. Some women on the CLI Family Forum discussion boards attribute their fertility struggles to overwhelming stress.

They claim as they reduced or eliminated stress they had a successful insemination. But it isn’t easy to calm your nerves when all you want is to have a happy, healthy family. So here are some suggestions from some women on the forum to help you reduce stress levels during this process:

  • Become educated on the insemination process. The extra research and knowledge will help you feel more in control of your situation and your choices.
  • Trust your intuition and your body. If something doesn’t feel right to you, discuss it with your doctor. Many women on the board ended up switching doctors because they weren’t comfortable with their first one.
  • Get a massage the day before your insemination. This is not only a great way to reduce extra muscle tension, but it also gives you some time to calm your mind and relax.
  • Some women on the forum utilized acupuncture to reduce stress and enhance fertility.
  • Fresh air is a must for good health and low stress. Go for a brisk walk outside and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Try your best to stay positive during the two week wait after your insemination until you know if it worked. This may be the longest two weeks of your life, so try to keep your mind focused on other activities.

CLI BlogVisit the CLI Family Forums to get encouragement from others who have gone through the same thing. Good luck on reducing your stress. Once you have your baby a whole new level of stress will develop. But that is for another post.

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So Many Options

Blog written by Laboratory Staff JM

These days, those who use donor sperm to conceive have more options than ever. The search tools for donor catalogs are extremely advanced, allowing a woman or couple to narrow down her ideal donor based on many characteristics: his physical attributes, his ancestry or education, whether or not he is Identity Option (ID Option), just to name a few.

I think exploring the reason why one donor is chosen over another is a very interesting topic. Did the couple choose that donor because he had black curly hair? Was the donor being ID Option the most important characteristic to the single woman who chose him? Is the fact that the donor is anonymous the most appealing thing about his profile, or is it his occupation or religious beliefs that make him the ideal donor for a particular woman or couple?

I often wonder what sort of expectations someone has when they choose a donor, beyond the obvious desire to conceive and have a baby. Does she (or they) plan to tell their child he or she was conceived using a sperm donor? Or if we flip the coin to the people who chose anonymous donors, do they plan to never disclose that information to their child (children)? Do they plan to use CLI Family Forums or the Donor Sibling Registry to connect with others who used the same donor? Would their ideal situation be to use an “exclusive” type donor who has been limited to maybe a couple of recipients?

These days, most cryobanks have advanced search tools that allow their clients many options to narrow down their donor selection. There are other resources available to families who have children who were donor-conceived, whether it be contacting the cryobank by email/phone/online chat, or social media. Further, donor families can connect via CLI Family Forums, the Donor Sibling Registry, and various other groups.

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4 Facts About HPV You Need to Know

The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most widespread sexually transmitted virus and 80 per cent of the world’s population will contract it once.

1. There are more than 100 types of HPV

HPV affects the skin and any moist membranes such as the lining of the mouth, throat, cervix and anus. Different types affect different parts of the body and cause different lesions.

Each different type has been assigned a number and approximately 40 strains of HPV affect the genital area. These are then divided into low risk strains which have no risk for cancer and those which can cause cancer.

The low risk types, such as HPV 6 and 11 cause non-cancerous genital warts. High risk types such as HPV 16 and 18 can cause cervical cancer and cancers of the anus, vagina, vulva, penis and some head and neck cancers.

2. Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by just two strains of HPV

Two strains of HPV (types 16 and 18), cause the vast majority of cervical cancers. Those infected typically have no symptoms for many years before cancer develops. Many men who are infected with HPV will not have any symptoms.

3. Sperm donors CAN be screened for HPV

Most sperm banks only do a physical exam to gather information about possible HPV infection. This will miss many men who are indeed infected and could pass the virus in their sperm donations.

Our view is that self-reported medical histories and physical examinations are insufficient to screen for HPV and that a DNA based test provides an additional level of safety to our donor sperm. The medical literature supports our position.

Since 2001, we have been testing the semen of our donors for HPV 16 and 18 at the time they are being screened for initial donor eligibility, and thereafter every three months while they are donating. By testing semen samples at 3 month intervals, we increase the chances of detecting the presence of HPV earlier than via the visual detection methods typically performed during a routine physical exam given at 6 month intervals in most tissue banking operations.

We cite a study (Human Papillomavirus DNA Detection in Sperm Using Polymerase Chain Reaction, Obstet Gynecol 2001;97:357-60) that concludes: “HPV is present in sperm cells from infected and apparently healthy subjects, and sperm washing does not eliminate the risk of HPV transmission to recipients. We suggest that HPV DNA testing should be done on the semen of prospective donors, and those with positive tests should be excluded from donation.”

4. Fairfax Cryobank is the ONLY sperm bank doing DNA based testing for HPV

The HPV testing was developed at the Molecular Infectious Disease Laboratory (MIDL) of the Genetics & IVF Institute. MIDL was established in 1998, and is a cutting edge CLIA-certified facility dedicated to infectious disease diagnostics using exclusively high sensitivity PCR (DNA) amplification methods. Prior to offering the HPV test in 2001, approximately 10,000 assays were performed. MIDL is directed by Brian D. Mariani, Ph.D., who has 25 years experience in molecular genetics, microbiology and biotechnology and was trained at Stanford and Harvard universities. The lab participates in the College of American Pathology nucleic-acid amplification survey program (including HPV detection) and maintains a 100% accuracy score.

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Two Week Wait Anxiety

If you have just completed an insemination with donor sperm, you are probably anxiously waiting to test to see if you are pregnant! It may seem like the longest two weeks in your entire life. A great option during this time is to find support from other people who understand what you are going through. They may help keep you calmer and less stressed about the process.

So where do you find others who are going through fertility treatments? Well you are in luck- the CLI Family Forums were created just for you! Check out the CLI Family Forums to keep your mind occupied, get support from others with similar experiences, and perhaps you will find a member who is on a similar testing scedule.

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The Top 5 Tips for Picking Your Ideal Donor

If you are thinking “Where do I start?,” this eBook will help answer your questions about the donor selection process.

  • Determine which donor category is right for you
  • Recognize the importance of knowing your CMV status
  • Create a list of required characteristics/traits
  • Get to know your donor
  • Utilize all resources to finalize your donor selection

CLI Blog smallDownload this Free eBook “The Top 5 Tips for Picking Your Ideal Donor” now.

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ASRM Video Understanding Fertility

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has an introduction video about understanding fertility in various aspects. This is a great place to start for anyone who is considering using donor sperm or having trouble conceiving.

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Donor Sperm for Couples experiencing Male Infertility

Blog written by CLI Laboratory Director, Michelle Ottey, PhD.

The CDC website lists data from a 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. They found that 7.5% of sexually experienced men under the age of 45 have visited a fertility doctor. These men visited a fertility doctor, presumably, due to an inability to conceive. Eighteen percent were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (14%) and varicocele (6%). A varicocele is a condition that causes a man’s testicular veins to be enlarged, which leads to the testes overheating. When this occurs sperm morphology (shape) and motility can be affected.

Male infertility is not often discussed, and can be a challenging emotional hurdle to a couple who is trying to start or add to their family. Male infertility is caused by numerous factors such as medical conditions, medications, lifestyle choices involving alcohol, drug use, smoking, and environment. All of these factors can lead to low sperm counts, poor motility, and below average morphology scores.

If a couple is having trouble conceiving, a semen analysis is the easiest method used to test fertility. The male partner will produce a semen specimen via self-masturbation and that specimen will be analyzed for count, motility, grade, morphology, and overall appearance. It is recommended that a minimum of two semen analyses be completed before drawing any conclusions about overall fertility or additional testing. The following is a chart representing the World Health Organization’s Standards for semen parameters.

Semen Parameter WHO 2010 Standard
Liquefaction 20-60 minutes the coagulated semen should liquefy
General Appearance The color and viscosity will be observed: the semen should not be red or pink which would indicate the presence of red blood cells
Volume The volume or amount of semen should be 1.5 mL or more
pH 7.2 or lower is considered normal
Count Greater than 40 million cells/mL
Motility Is presented as a percent; you will see a simple motility which should be 50% or greater
Vitality If a sample has a low motility, a viability stain should be done to determine if the sperm are dead or only immotile.

If the male partner’s specimen cannot be used to achieve pregnancy, the couple has the option of working with a sperm bank to purchase donor sperm for insemination. Couples are able to search through the available donors on the sperm bank’s donor search to identify the perfect donor match for them. They can look for donors with similar ethnic origins to the male partner, similar physical features, etc. There are hundreds of sperm donors available through commercial sperm banks which allows for a diverse group of couples the ability to find a good match.

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Improving the Odds When TTC

Blog written by Cryobank Staff JM

So you’re ready to try to conceive. Perhaps you’re in the right place in your career, in your relationship, in your life to start building a family, or maybe you’re ready for a new addition to the family you already have.

Have you thought about improving your chances for conceiving and for a healthy pregnancy?

Having a pre-conception consultation with your doctor is a great place to start! There are so many questions and considerations. Here are a few examples:

• Should you lose a few pounds?

• Have you been taking prenatal vitamins or folic acid supplements?

• Should you chart your basal body temperature and cervical mucus?

• Do you have any health issues that could make TTC difficult?

• Should you have pre-conception testing to determine if you’re a carrier of any genetic disorders you could pass along to a baby?

Is a pre-conception consultation necessary or required? Of course not. But it can be a really helpful tool when you’re TTC. Think of it as a way to open the lines of communication with your doctor. You may learn something you didn’t know.

For instance, did you know that taking folic acid supplements prior to conception (usually in the form of pre-natal vitamins) is one of the most important things you can do to prevent certain birth defects, like Spina Bifida and other neural tube defects. In fact, many doctors recommend starting folic acid supplements at least 3 months before TTC.

CLI Blog smallSo why not improve the odds? Have a pre-conception consultation before you start TTC!








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Infertility Insurance Coverage

An interesting article for those who are dealing with infertility issues was published in the Salt Lake Tribune today.  The news story is following a proposed bill that would introduce infertility coverage to insurance plans in Utah.

The article “Bill would allow insurance for infertility treatments“ discusses how it would be financially beneficial in covering some of the costs associated with infertility. There appears to controversy about the proposed bill and its limitations in who would be allowed this coverage option.

The American Society for Reproductive Health has great links to “Headlines in Reproductive Health.” This is a great resource for anyone looking for the most up to date news about infertily topics.

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