Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things to Consider When Choosing a Sperm Donor

We're in-between appointments right now.

My wife is going to start cycle monitoring sometime this week and we have our psychologist appointment next week.

I wanted to take some time about some of the things we thought about when starting this whole process and also as we try to choose a donor.

First we had to decide who was going to try to conceive. We agreed that we would eventually like to try to have two children. I've known for a long time that I would like to have the experience of being pregnant and giving birth, my wife was not as sure. ("It's like having an alien inside of you!" she says.) So, it was either that I would try to conceive twice, or that we would each try once. Eventually she decided that she wanted to give it a try. Since she is nearly five years older than me, but still under 35, we decided that she would would go first. In a couple of years when we're ready to try for our second, it will be my turn to carry.

The second thing we had to decide on was whether to use a known or anonymous donor. There was only one guy we were considering as a known donor. He's a friend that I met in university. He's gay and is the single parent of a beautiful little boy that he had with a surrogate mother. He says it's the best thing he's ever done in his life and that he would be honoured to help us try to have children. We VERY seriously considered taking him up on his offer. He's kind, smart, healthy, gorgeous, and any children that we had would know who their biological father was. Logistically it was very difficult to work out though. We basically had two options. #1. Fly him out every month and use the turkey baster method. #2. Have him apply as a Designated (Known) Donor at a sperm bank... but this presented a slew of other challenges. Since he's gay we would have to fill out a special consent form and have it approved. Same because of his age (over 40). Also, his sperm would have to be quarantined for a year before we could start inseminations. Finally, using a Designated Donor is much more costly than going the anonymous route. Neither my wife or I were very comfortable with Option #1. We tend to be somewhat cautious and I think both liked the reassurance that comes with going through a clinic for cycle monitoring and insemination. Also, he's able to make that commitment to us now, but what if in a few years, when we want to have a second child, the circumstances have changed? (Not that we didn't trust that he would still be willing, more that he might not be able.) Since we are both planning on carrying a child, we would like to use the same donor, so that the children share a biological link. So we eliminated Option #1. For the reasons mentioned above, Option #2 was out as well. So that meant looking at sperm banks for an anonymous donor.

Here are some of the things we are considering now that we are trying to decide on an anonymous donor:
-personal and family heath history (a history of cancer or heart disease are concerns for us)
-appearance (height, weight, skin tone, hair and eye colour -looking for someone not too big and with similar colouring to either of us)
-interests (balanced, and if possible, somewhat in line with or complementary to our own)

Based on the research that we did we also decided that we should try to choose a donor who was CMV negative, had a reported pregnancy, and had IUI samples available.

We currently have the list narrowed down to 6 potential donors, and are hoping to decide on our top two before the end of the month. We plan on purchasing a number of samples and storing them so that they are available when we need them and there isn't question about the availability of additional samples from the same donor. (Of course, if it takes a lot of attempts, we may have to hope that there are additional samples available because we don't want to over buy either... this stuff is expensive!)

An additional FYI: According to the ReproMed website 42% of women using donor sperm conceive within 3 cycles and 67% conceive within 6 cycles (86% for women under 36 years old). The CanAm Cryoservices site lists pregnancy rates in the range of 9-20% per cycle. I'm the type of person who likes knowing the stats, even though I'm well aware that they're only stats and things can vary greatly from one person to the next.

Anyway, I know we had a ton of questions about choosing a donor, so I hope that this information helps anyone who is thinking about try to conceive using donor sperm. Maybe at some point in the future I will do a big post about the processes with the fertility clinic because I know that was another area that we really didn't know a lot about either.

Catch ya' later.