How to Choose a Sperm Donor and Fertility Treatment Option

This post was sponsored by Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York (RMA of New York)

Single motherhood by choice provides a powerful option for family building. The ability to choose motherhood on your own terms gives you full autonomy over your reproduction and family building plans. When planning for single motherhood, there are a few key decisions that are critical to finding the right treatment path for you. Choosing a sperm source is a very personal decision that can look different for each patient. There are, however, medical implications that need to be considered when choosing your donor sperm and your providers are here to help guide you through this process. Another key decision is how to best utilize the donor sperm to achieve pregnancy. This journey will be different for everyone and it is important to find a team that makes you feel comfortable, empowered, and gives you the best chance for a healthy baby.

The choice for sperm donor is a very personal decision. Some patients prefer to use someone they know, like a friend or acquaintance. This is called a designated donor and while it has benefits of knowing the donor personally, it is critical to make sure each party is entering the arrangement with full consent and that parental and financial roles in the child’s life are clearly defined. If this is the best decision for you then the designated donor should undergo a series of tests to ensure that they are a good candidate, including a semen analysis to screen for abnormal sperm parameters that could affect reproduction. Additionally, the donor undergoes testing for transmissible infections, a drug screen, and a detailed medical and family history.

We strongly recommend a genetic screening for both you and the potential donor to ensure that you don’t carry any of the same recessive genetic conditions that could lead to disease in your offspring. According to FDA guidelines, the designated donor will then freeze a semen sample, which undergoes a period of quarantine. After the quarantine period, the designated donor will get re-tested for transmissible infections and the sperm is released from quarantine once results confirm no disease is present. At RMA of New York we have a designated sperm donor program and experienced professionals will walk you through this process to make it seamless for you and your donor.

In most cases, patients choose to use non-designated sperm donor (known as an anonymous sperm donor) that is purchased through a commercial sperm bank. The sperm banks provide information about the donors such as physical attributes, heritage, educational background, personality and interests. It is common for baby pictures of the donor to be viewed and in some cases adult photos can be viewed as well. The sperm bank provide screening for transmissible diseases and ensure normal semen parameters before accepting a donor. In this case it is still critical for you to get screened for any prior exposure to transmissible disease, including cytomegalovirus (CMV), as well as genetic screening as mentioned above. Based on your results your medical provider can ensure you choose a sperm donor that meets your individualized criteria from both a social and emotional standpoint as well as a medical standpoint.

Once you have chosen the sperm source it is important to consider which fertility treatment is right for you. The 2 primary treatment options are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). In IUI the donor sperm is placed directly into your uterus by a medical provider around ovulation time when chances for conception are highest. In IVF hormonal injections are administered in order to grow multiple mature eggs that are removed from your ovaries through a vaginal procedure and fertilized in a petri dish. The resultant embryos are then grown in specialized incubators and after about 5 days the high quality embryos can be screened for chromosomal abnormalities to find out which embryos have the best chance implantation and healthy live birth.

In order to understand which treatment path is right for you, you should talk to your provider about your age and ideal family size. It is important to undergoing a fertility work-up including ovarian reserve testing and an assessment of your fallopian tubes in order to make the most informed decision. If you would like to pursue single motherhood by choice in the future, but are not ready to start family building immediately, you can consider egg or embryo freezing to protect against age related fertility decline.

At RMA New York we provide comprehensive patient-centered care for all patients considering or pursuing single parenthood by choice. We are dedicated to seeing your vision through, however that journey looks for you.

Dr. Rachel Gerber, RMA NY


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