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May 31, 2022
For LGBTQ couples in which both partners have ovaries, donor sperm is necessary to start a family. But should you use an anonymous donor (like from a sperm bank), or a donor you know? And what does the sperm donation process look like? Let’s take a look.
A recent study found that this form of family building has been increasing since the mid-2000s, with nearly half a million women using donated sperm to conceive between 2015 and 2017.
There are pros and cons to each decision — let’s take a look at factors to consider when making your choice.
Anonymous donor sperm usually comes from a sperm bank. This method, which is subject to FDA regulations and should follow the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s guidelines for sperm donation, has several advantages:
Still, anonymity comes with downsides that are important to consider when choosing a sperm donor. These include:
Sperm from a known donor (also called a directed donor), like a friend or relative, has its advantages and disadvantages as well. The main benefits include:
There are also drawbacks that you would be less likely to experience with sperm from an anonymous donor. Consider the following:
Whether you choose a known sperm donor or an anonymous one, you will need to decide how to use the sperm. There are three main methods, each with different advantages, disadvantages, and success rates. In general, people younger than 35 without known fertility issues have a higher chance of getting pregnant with these procedures.
Typically, this involves depositing the sperm close to your cervix with a syringe, known as intracervical insemination (ICI). ICI is less expensive than other methods, but also somewhat less effective, with a 2015 study finding a 37.9% pregnancy rate after up to six treatment cycles.
With IUI, your doctor will use a catheter to place the donor sperm directly into your uterus. IUI is closely timed to take place during ovulation.
Because a fertility clinic prepares the sperm and performs the procedure, it’s more expensive than at-home insemination. However, it’s also slightly more effective than ICI, with the same study indicating a 40.5% pregnancy rate after six treatment cycles. Over a single cycle, the success rate typically falls between 7% and 25% depending on your age, fertility, and other factors.
IVF involves extracting eggs from the ovaries, combining them with sperm in a lab, then placing the fertilized egg back in a uterus. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the average cost of IVF in the U.S. is approximately $11,000, compared to under $2,000 for IUI.
The success rate is highly dependent on age: those under age 35 have a 39.6% chance of getting pregnant in one cycle IVF, but the rate drops to 11.5% for those over 40. The CDC offers an IVF Success Estimator, which uses a series of questions to calculate your chances of IVF helping you have a baby.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a technique in which an embryologist injects a single sperm directly into the egg, can increase IVF fertilization rates and potentially mean you only need one vial of donor sperm.
If you choose to use sperm from a known donor, Legacy offers at-home semen analysis and freezing services to help you meet fertility clinic requirements. With significantly lower costs than traditional methods, we’ll help you access affordable, effective ways to grow your family.
We highly recommend that couples using a known donor speak to a fertility advisor about the requirements.
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