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What to Look For When Choosing a Sperm Donor

Deciding to become pregnant using donor sperm is a big step. No matter what circumstances brought you to this decision, it’s not to be taken lightly. Single women who opt to become pregnant, lesbian couples looking to grow their family, or couples dealing with male infertility, all come to the point of choosing a sperm donor.

Selecting the right donor to provide half of the genetic make-up of your future child can be an overwhelming task. After all, the choice will have a profound effect on your life, for the rest of your life. Because choosing a sperm donor is such an important task, we offer some points to ponder as you move forward in your decision to grow your family through this process.

Anonymous or Known Donor

There are two ways to go about using a sperm donor. You can use an anonymous donor, selected based on those qualities you hold favorable, or you can use a donor who is known to you, and has consented.

If you use an anonymous donor’s semen you will be using previously frozen sperm. The reason is for your protection and the protection of your future child. Sperm donors must be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. In order for sperm to get the “all clear” the sperm donor needs to be tested once, and then tested again after 6 months.

For those using a known sperm donor, also known as directed sperm donor, the “waiting period” is one week. Typically, the prospective directed donor would provide a blood sample for infectious disease screening and collect sperm which can be frozen the same day. If adequate enough, sperm from a single collection can be divided up in a few small tubes called cryo-vials and stored for later use. This allows the use of sperm for more than one attempt or cycle of IUI or IVF treatment.

The Donor’s Medical History

Knowing your donor’s medical history is extremely important. Inherited conditions such as cystic fibrosis can have a devastating outcome, and being aware of certain genetic conditions depends on a family health history of the biological father. Understanding any and all risks your future child may face is a benefit of knowing the medical history of your donor.

Your Donor’s Physical Characteristics

Obviously, your primary concern is conceiving and delivering a healthy baby. Beyond that you will want to consider those physical attributes you would like your child to possess. As your donor will provide 50% of the DNA, it’s important to consider his physical characteristics.

What did he look like as a baby? You may be looking at a close carbon copy of the biological father someday soon. If you have a partner, you may want the donor to mimic your partner’s skin tone, hair color, eye color, ethnicity, and physical build.

Your Donor’s Education, Hobbies and Interests, and Personal Values

Everyone has a different yardstick by which they measure success and potential. You probably want your sperm donor to share your similar interests and values. You may want a donor who is advanced in his education. If religious beliefs are important to you, perhaps you would prefer a donor who shares your faith. Consider those hobbies, interests, and traits you would like to see in your future child when choosing a sperm donor.

Remember, however, that ultimately your child will be their own person. You may choose to use the semen of someone who’s very athletic, and your child may end up with a more pronounced artistic side. Likewise, you may opt for the sperm of a scientist, only to find you’re raising a child who doesn’t excel at science. Selecting a sperm donor in order to provide your child with certain qualities you find admirable doesn’t guarantee those qualities will be strong in your future child.

You May Want to Have More Children Using the Same Donor

Some couples, as well as single women, choose to have more than one child, and desire their children to be full siblings. If you think you may want more than one child by the same donor, you’ll need to find out if there are multiple vials available for you to use. There are also women who obtain multiple vials, in the event IUI or IVF needs to be repeated.

Support on The Journey

Of course you aren’t alone on this journey. We offer support and counseling every step of the way as you pursue your pregnancy using a sperm donor. Because of the delicate and complex nature of your decision, you are advised to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist and discuss the process of your sperm donor insemination.

Additionally, it’s crucial to go through psychological counseling. There likely will be many emotional twists and turns along the way, and counseling with the right professional will help you-and your partner-to be prepared.