My Known Donor Warning

This woman shared her story on the Choice Moms discussion board, and I thought it was a great reminder to women using a known donor: Make sure you talk about sperm testing before spending too much time trying to conceive.

“I started on my journey by asking this friend of many years, and he said yes. When he got his initial semen analysis, it came back with poor results in every area but motility. He said he would make some lifestyle changes, which should improve the results. They did, but not by much. And that was three months of my bio clock down the drain. I’m 38. We tried 2 IUIs, and the doctor said that basically our only hope is IVF/ICSI (a very costly procedure). Please learn from my story and be sure to get a strong semen analysis result before getting emotionally invested in the process with your known donor candidate.”

Others on the discussion board have recommended that any known donor get these tests done:

  • HIV
  • HTLV I and II,
  • RPR for syphilis
  • Hep B and C
  • CMV
  • Semen analysis



  2 comments for “My Known Donor Warning

  1. Ali
    August 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you for this information! Is the recommendation that the known donor get these tests done on his own through his own doctor, or wait until you’re involved with a fertility clinic and do it through them since they’ll require it? Thanks!

    • August 24, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      I went to a top source for this response… Alice Ruby, executive director of The Sperm Bank of California, which works with a lot of people who use directed donors, as well as donors in their own bank. Her response:

      In general, the earlier you can get a sense of the donor’s fertility the better. This will prevent you both from getting too attached to the idea before all the facts are in. Having a semen analysis requires seeing a specialist. The known donor can ask if his doctor will order it; however, he will probably need to go to a fertility clinic, a sperm bank or other andrologist depending on what is available in his area and it may not be covered by insurance. If the semen analysis is done at a reputable lab by appropriately licensed personnel, a fertility clinic should accept the results, but they may still require he go through their protocols. This may require having more than one semen analysis if you are unsure what clinic you plan to work with.

      Due to regulations, many clinics will require that sperm from a known donor be frozen so the donor can be screened and then retested after an 180-day quarantine period. If you are planning to have the sperm frozen, you will also want to get a “test thaw” before investing money in having the donor screened. When a test thaw is performed, a semen analysis is done on the fresh sample, a portion of the sample is frozen and when it is thawed a few days later, another count is performed to see how well the sperm survives the freezing process. This is very important to know in advance if you will be freezing the sperm as it will impact how many samples you will be want to store.

      Alice Ruby, MPH, MPPM
      Executive Director
      The Sperm Bank of California

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