Severe male infertility can include low sperm counts, low sperm motility or sperm that requires surgical extraction due to prior vasectomy or other conditions.
Donor sperm is also a good alternative when there is a history of poor or abnormal fertilization or arrested embryo development. Using donor sperm is also a safer route for couples whose male partner may have a genetic condition and they have decided not to pursue preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or in cases where the male has an infectious disease.
In addition, donor sperm offers lesbian couples and transgender individuals the opportunity to start a family of their own without a male partner.
Patients interested in using donor sperm will meet with our Genetic Counselors to ensure an appropriate match. They will also meet with our mental health team to discuss relationship and family dynamics, age-appropriate ways to disclose to their children how they were conceived and issues related to anonymity and a possible search for biological siblings in the future.
Donor sperm can be used from a known donor, an anonymous donor whose identity is not disclosed, or an open-identity donor which gives the child the option to contact the donor after turning 18 years old.
If a patient decides to use a known sperm donor, the donor must be screened by a licensed sperm bank prior to donation in accordance with federal law. The donor also has the option to attend the patient’s initial consultation.
If a patient opts for an anonymous or open-identity donor, RMA’s care team will help guide the selection process by providing a list of reputable donor sperm banks in the area. RMA’s care team will also ensure the match is the healthiest possible choice based on the genetic information available and help with decisions like how many and which types of vials of sperm to purchase.
All prospective donors undergo rigorous screening of their medical and family history and have genetic testing performed to identify possible carrier conditions that could result in the conception of a child with a genetic illness. Anonymously donated sperm is frozen and quarantined for six months prior to availability for use to ensure the donor does not have an infectious disease.
During an intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle, oral or injectable fertility medications may be used to stimulate the ovary and promote ovulation. Alternatively, insemination can be timed during a patient’s natural ovulation cycle. Near the time of ovulation, sperm is placed directly into the uterine cavity through a small catheter. This is a short office procedure similar to a pap smear. Approximately two weeks later, a pregnancy test is taken.
Patients may also elect to use donor sperm for fertilization of eggs through in vitro fertilization (IVF). In that case, donor sperm is placed directly with the retrieved eggs in the laboratory to create embryos, which can then be transferred to the uterus or cryopreserved for future use.