Sperm Donor Myths

I have written before about the myths and misconceptions of sperm donation; everything from men thinking they can just walk in and donate one time to sperm counts differing week to week. There are still many myths and misconceptions out there, so I thought now would be a good time to debunk a few more.

Myth: One ejaculate is one vial of sperm. OR One ejaculate is 15 vials of sperm.

Truth: This is completely dependent on the quality and fresh analysis of the ejaculate in question. The sperm count and motility/progression determine how the sample will be processed and how many vials will result. Because our current Specimen Quality Standard is to have 10 million TMC sperm cells/vial we do some math that determines the total number of vials that can be made from the ejaculate. Sometimes this is 1 vial, sometimes it is 10. The average number of vials/ejaculate is around 4-5 depending on the prep type.

Myth: Donors donate 2-3 times a week, sometimes for years at a time.

Truth: Our Cryobank works with our sperm donors to determine the optimal number of abstinence hours for them to produce the best quality sample. The majority of our donors produce once a week. Our program requires the donors to donate for a period of 6 months though many of them stay in the program a bit longer.

Myth: You can assume that every vial equals a pregnancy.

Truth: On average it takes up to 4 inseminations to achieve pregnancy, similar to the success rates of traditional fertilization. Depending on the procedure and the prep type of the donor sperm sample, this can be 4-8 vials.

Myths: Sperm Banks are unregulated and do whatever they want to do to make money.

Truth: Sperm Banks are highly regulated by the FDA and various other state governments. Many sperm banks are also AATB accredited and all follow the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM.) Sperm Banks also have internal policies that are developed and followed to meet the needs of the donors, the recipients, and the offspring. These internal policies cover everything from the number of vials that are produced for each donor and the number of Family Units for each donor.  Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc. developed a policy in 2008 that limits the number of Family Units for each donor to 25. We rely on pregnancy and birth reporting to track this, as well as limiting the number of vials that a donor produces. We monitor these numbers monthly.

 

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Beginner’s Guide to Infertility

If you are just getting started on your journey with infertility, please use this great resource from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) on Assisted Reproductive Technologies. This guide will walk you through the details of IVF insemination, egg retrieval process, success rate statistics, and common terminology you will encounter along the way.

CLI Blog smallAnd if you are just starting the donor sperm process, you will love the step by step guide countdown to trying to conceive.

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How Old is My Donor?

Written by Fairfax Cryobank Laboratory Director, Michelle Ottey, PhD.

One of the frequently asked questions of our client services representatives is, “how old is my donor?” Our sperm bank does not provide the date of birth or specific age of our donors to the patients. A date of birth is identifying information and we work to ensure the confidentiality of the donor identities. All of our donors are between the ages of 18 and 39 when donating. We follow this guideline based on the American Association of Tissue Banking (AATB) Standards because we are an AATB accredited Sperm Bank. Several other regulating agencies require this age range for sperm donation as well, such as NY State.

Various researchers have published data over the years that suggest that genetic defects in the sperm increase with age in men. This could lead to decreased fertility, increased chance of miscarriage and increased risk of some birth defects. Most of these adverse effects of age are found once the male reached middle age. (Relationship between advanced paternal age and male fertility highlights an impending paradigm shift in reproductive biology. Editorial in Press Jason R. Kovac, M.D., Ph.D., Ryan P. Smith, M.D., Larry I. Lipshultz, M.D., Scott Department of Urology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Fertility and Sterility April 26, 2013)

CLI Blog smallMany people assume that all sperm donors are college age men. This is a misconception. Though about 20% of our sperm donors are college age, the majority (60%) are 21-29.

 

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Connecting with others who use donor sperm

Here are two great ways to connect with families who have used a donor or to ask questions during the selection process.

1. The CLI Family Forums allow you to connect with other single mothers, same sex couples, or couples with fertility issues. The CLI Sibling Registry can also connect you to others who have used the same donor. Come visit today!

2. ‘Like’ us on Facebook. Hear the latest news, post your baby photos, find out what others are thinking. We want to see you connect with others who are on the same journey to parenthood. Periodic specials just for Facebook members.

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Sperm Banking Background Fundamentals – Donor Anonymity

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.

Donor Anonymity: The maintenance of donor anonymity is essential to the availability and quality of donors. There are those who believe that the identity of all donors should be known, and such disclosure is, in fact, required in a number of countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia. But the consequence of this requirement has been a severe shortage of donors, since most donors do not want to be known.

However, the industry is sensitive to the desire by some for “known” donors as an alternative to anonymous donors. Consequently, now most of the major sperm banks offer donors who have agreed to have their identities disclosed to their offspring at age eighteen. Interestingly, known donors are not selected disproportionately more than anonymous donors.

Since it is clear that many want their donors to remain anonymous, sperm banks do not think it is wise to destroy the anonymous status for ALL donors. To do so would breach the contracts and representations made to donors and to those who selected an anonymous donor, and eliminate for a large segment of potential users of sperm donors the much wanted option to select a forever anonymous donor. Read CLI’s Privacy Policy.

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Sperm Banking Background Fundamentals -Donor Information

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.

Donor Information: As part of the screening process to determine donor eligibility, sperm banks gather a great deal of family (3 generations) and personal medical history. In addition, while donating, donors are given physical examinations every six months, and are also tested for a wide array of infectious diseases at least every six months. Most sperm banks also perform chromosome analysis (karyotype) and test for many common genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis in the general population, and genetic conditions common to certain ethnic groups (e.g., sickle cell trait for African Americans).

Donors are interviewed extensively to check for consistency and accuracy of reported information. In addition to the screening and testing of donors used to establish medical eligibility to donate, sperm banks also offer other “soft” information on its donors such as childhood photos, personality tests, audio interviews, staff impressions, and personal profiles. It has been said that the amount of medical and personal information on an anonymous donor greatly exceeds the knowledge most people have of a known partner.

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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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Stress and Infertility

From the American Society for Reproductive Medicine:

What is stress?

Stress is often defined as an event that a person sees/feels is threatening. In order to protect itself, the body responds with a “fight or flight” response.

How can stress impact a fertility patient?

Sometimes, infertility patients respond to the stress of being unable to conceive by aggressively pursuing treatment and procedures. Other patients withdraw and isolate from family, friends, and community. Neither of these extremes is ideal for patients who seek to treat their infertility and build a family.

Read more about how to reduce stress HERE
CLI BlogASRM is an excellent resource for reproductive facts. Please check out their patient resources website at http://www.reproductivefacts.org/.

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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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