Sometimes, it takes a village...
About Using Donor Sperm
If you are considering using donor sperm, you probably have many questions. We have a dedicated donor coordinator at Markham Fertility Centre who can answer your questions and help you select the right donor. Our in-house genetic counsellor can also review genetic profiles of sperm donors and review expanded carrier screening (ECS) to help you in your selection journey.
The following circumstances will often involve the use of donor sperm:
You want to get pregnant but do not have a partner with sperm
Your partner has very poor sperm count and/or motility
You want to prevent the transfer of a known genetic condition
You are in a same-sex relationship where neither partner can produce sperm
Markham Fertility accepts sperm from both known donors (friend or family member) or sperm banks. Typically, a known donor is a friend or relative while an anonymous donor comes from a donor sperm bank.
We work with two Canadian distributors to allow our patients to access many different sperm banks. Once purchased, frozen donor sperm is shipped from the distributor to our lab prior to your fertility treatment. Donor sperm can be used in IUI or IVF/ICSI treatment.
Your Journey Using a 'Known' Sperm Donor Begins Here
The process of using donor sperm will vary depending on whether you are using a known donor or sperm bank. Below we outline the typical pathway for both options. Using an anonymous donor by purchasing sperm through a recognized and approved sperm bank is much faster, while a directed donation can take longer in order to comply with infectious disease screening standards.
Your journey will start with a consultation with your fertility specialist at Markham Fertility Centre and an appointment with one of the dedicated Donor and Surrogacy nurses. Both you and your potential sperm donor will have separate appointments to ensure everyone feels supported and comfortable with the process. Your D&S team will set up appointments for genetic consultation for you and your donor as well as bloodwork and semen analysis for your donor and direction to schedule psychological counselling for you both, separately. This is an essential stage to ensure your sperm donor is a good candidate for the procedure. Once tests are back, your fertility doctor will meet with the donor to discuss the procedure and risks associated with being a sperm donor.
Testing - Genetic and Infectious Disease Screening (6 weeks)
Both you and the donor will meet with our genetic counsellor to discuss expanded carrier screening (ECS). The purpose of ECS is to identify any genetic risks for the future baby. Results from ECS take approximately six weeks. Both parties will also complete infectious disease screening.
While you are waiting for results of genetic tests, you and your sperm donor can complete counselling appointments. Markham Fertility Centre requires that both the potential sperm donor and intended parent(s) attend appointments with a psychologist or counsellor. Counselling ensures that both you and the donor fully understand the implications so both parties can consent to treatment. Counselling can also help you and the donor understand the emotional implications of sperm donation. It can also help you prepare for any potential concerns that may arise in the future.
Sperm donor agreements are an essential part of the known sperm donation process. It is considered best practice for the the sperm donor and intended parent(s) to have independent legal advice. There are a number of experienced reproductive lawyers in Canada to choose from. The D&S team can also provide a list.
Sperm Sample Freezing
Your known sperm donor will have an appointment at MFC to produce the sperm sample that will be donated. The sample must be frozen as infectious disease screening must be done within seven days of producing the sample. Results can often take up to two weeks to come back and results must be reviewed before the sample can be released for use according to Health Canada regulations.
Day of Insemination (IUI) or Fertilization (IVF)
If you are undergoing an IUI cycle, our lab will thaw your donor sperm and wash it prior to insemination. Washing separates the sperm from the semen. Washing is an effective means of improving the pregnancy rate and decreasing the risk of infectious diseases. We use two person authentication to ensure the correct sperm is being used. The process for IVF is similar, but sperm will be utilized by the embryologists to fertilize eggs within the lab.
Your Journey Using an 'Anonymous' Sperm Donor Begins Here
Below we outline the typical pathway for using anonymous sperm from a sperm bank.
Choosing a Sperm Donor
Your journey using a sperm donor will start with a consultation with your fertility specialist at Markham Fertility Centre and an appointment with one of the dedicated Donor and Surrogacy nurses. Your D&S team will provide you with a list of donor sperm banks and will be by your side as you navigate the process of choosing a donor. Donor profiles will include a great deal of information about potential donors including height, weight, appearance (hair colour, eye colour), ethnic background, medical/genetic history, etc.
Testing - Genetic, Infectious Disease Screening (6 weeks)
You will meet with our genetic counsellor to discuss expanded carrier screening (ECS). The purpose of ECS is to identify any genetic risks for the future baby. Results from ECS take approximately six weeks. You will also complete infectious disease screening.
The sperm will have already undergone infectious disease screening and genetic screening prior to their sperm donation. You will be able to review these test results.
While you are waiting for results of genetic tests, you can complete your counselling appointment. Markham Fertility Centre requires that the intended parent(s) attend an appointment with a psychologist or counsellor. Counselling ensures that you fully understand the implications so you can consent to treatment. Counselling can also help you understand the emotional implications of sperm donation. It can also help you prepare for any potential concerns that may arise in the future.
Transfer of Donor Sperm to the Clinic
Sperm must be received by you lab before you start your treatment cycle. You are responsible for purchasing the sperm from the sperm bank and they will arrange shipping to MFC. Once the sperm arrives at MFC, you will be informed. Our lab team will again confirm that the donor went through all appropriate screening and that the sample meets Health Canada requirements.
Day of Insemination (IUI) or Fertilization (IVF)
If you are undergoing an IUI cycle, our lab will thaw your donor sperm and wash it if needed. Washing separates the sperm from the semen and reduces the risk of transmission of any infectious agents. Some samples are already washed prior to freezing by the sperm bank. We do not wash the sperm a second time.
The process for IVF is similar, but sperm will be utilized by the embryologists to fertilize eggs within the lab.