Sperm Banking and Donor Sperm Insemination
Almost half of the couples presenting to fertility clinics in this country have some component of male factor infertility contributing to their difficulty in conceiving. These may range from subtle abnormalities in the sperm's ability to bind and penetrate the egg to severely low or even absent sperm counts. While recent advances in in vitro fertilization techniques have allowed us to overcome the majority of cases of severe male factor infertility, some couples may elect to use donated sperm (frozen sperm, sperm banking) for therapy with donor insemination.
Therapeutic donor insemination is particularly effective in couples with a healthy female partner with no apparent fertility concerns in addition to the male factor. All couples choosing to pursue donor insemination will be treated with respect and dignity in our practice. At the Institute for Reproductive Health we perform only the most effective type of donor insemination: intrauterine. During this process the sperm is placed directly into the top of the uterine cavity, right where the Fallopian tubes open up to achieve better access to the eggs. This is done vaginally, takes only 2-3 minutes, and is described by most women as feeling very similar to a Pap smear.
In order to time the insemination exactly with ovulation, most of our patients will have an ultrasound around day 11 or 12 of their cycle to monitor egg development. Ovulation is then triggered when the eggs are mature so that the timing is optimized. A typical treatment cycle involves only two 10-minute office visits and costs typically around $400-600 plus the cost of the frozen sperm (which varies from bank to bank). For those couples needing additional help, fertility medications for the female can be added to improve the odds of conception. Donor sperm insemination is typically very successful. Typically 4 to 6 insemination cycles are required to achieve pregnancy.
Commercial sperm banks are the best source of frozen banked sperm and can be easily accessed online. We have worked closely with Fairfax cryobank for many years with good success, but there are several reputable banks available. Donor sperm is carefully screened for infectious diseases and common genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, and the female to be inseminated is also required to undergo testing before therapy. The majority of this testing is simple blood work done in the office. All donor insemination is required by the Food and Drug administration to be with frozen sperm not fresh sperm. Sperm freezing allows for quarantining the sperm so the donor can be retested after 6 months. This is an extra measure of safety.
The laboratory at IRH will accept the shipped sperm directly at our facility, so couples undergoing donor inseminations do not need to worry about accepting storage tanks or dealing with liquid nitrogen, express courier deliveries, etc. at home. IRH can also arrange for sperm banking for gentlemen who may require chemotherapy for cancer treatment. We encourage all men who desire future fertility to consider banking sperm before undergoing treatment with chemo. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office staff at 513-924-5550.