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Sperm Shopping Tips?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

My partner and I are shopping for sperm to use for IUIs later this year.  I'm finding it more daunting than I imagined, and I'm hoping that you all might have some advice or experience to share.  For starters, we're generally uncomfortable with what feels like "engineering" a baby based on donor profiles, but that seems like something with which we're just going to have to come to terms in this process.  The other two challenges we're working with are whether or not to use an id release donor and what sperm bank to choose.  I know, not exactly novel challenges around here! shy.gif


After talking to other queer parents and few adopted friends, I think we've decided that having a willing-to-be known donor is not of the highest priority for us.  I originally assumed we would use an id release donor just to keep our child(ren)'s options open when they are adults, but it seems like most of our queer friends who have conceived via insemination used anonymous donors and are happy with that decision.  We really think the family that we create is more important than biological ties, but I also have some discomfort in closing off the option for our child(ren) to know their donors.  The cost savings of anonymous donors is also a plus for us, of course.  What do you think about the perennial id release/ anonymous debate?  If we go with a non-id release donor, are we going to regret the decision for the rest of our lives?


Also, we could use some help choosing a sperm bank.  I've read as many reviews as I can find, but it seems like reviews are not readily available for some of the banks we're considering.  Is it a red flag if I can't find reviews?  The banks we are considering are:


Pacific Reproductive Services:  We like that they're lesbian owned, but are they really worth double the price of other banks (especially if we don't require a willing to be known donor)?


CryoGam Colorado:  I really like that they go out of their way to advertise their LGBT friendliness, and my microbiologist friend says they have a great reputation in the industry.  They also happen to have my favorite donor profile at the moment, but I haven't talked to anyone who has actually used their services. 


Idant Labs:  Again, very little info on them other than their industry ratings and what they say on their website. 


NW Andrology:  I've seen the thread here with some recent favorable reviews, but I'm still a little worried about lots of unfavorable reviews on other websites.


Midwest was on our list because a couple we know raves about them, but even if they re-open, I'm a little sketched out by their recent sudden closing. 


Many thanks for any advice or experiences you can share!  Also, feel free to direct me to other threads if I'm missing information that already exists here. 





post #2 of 14

Hi there,


Sperm shopping is both fun and creepy.  I remember having those issues back in the day (ok, yesterday, maybe).  I personally decided to go with ID-release.  If I were adopting a baby I would prefer open adoption.  I  mean, I think family is experiences through life, but I think genes are awful cool, too.  Everyone has different priorities, all you can really do is sleep on it.  Will it ruin your life to go with anonymous?  I doubt it.  Might it enrich your kid's life to go willing to be known?  Possibly.


Picking a bank is almost as hard as picking a donor.  If you go with ID-release, you really want then to still be around when the kid turns 18.  You want them to be clean and nice and honest.  Because they were local to me, I used Pacific for my first.  They were cheaper then.  I'm using European Sperm Bank now because when I started they were cheaper than all the other id-release places. 


Good luck in your quest for knowledge.  There used to be a sticky at the top of the forum about picking banks.  If you search you may find some good stuff.  Also on the queer TTC thread it's been discussed in January or December, I think.

post #3 of 14

Hey Karma, 


The board just ate my reply, so here's the short version! 


My wife and I will begin TTC later this year, so I can't speak to bank experiences, but I did want to throw my two cents in on the ID release donor issue. 


My mother found out at age 43 that she was adopted as an infant.  Long story short, neither of her parents ever told her she was adopted, she discovered it on her own via DNA test, but only (very shortly) after both her parents were deceased.  After months of searching, a private investigator found that her biological mother had passed away and there was no information on her biological father.  


Not knowing who her father was or how he contributed to her genes has really taxed my mom and our family - half of our medical history is unaccounted for.  


Although we receive medical information on anonymous donors, many times these donors are young men and they have yet to discover things about themselves.  Things like genetic conditions or abnormalities or familial mental illness.  


Getting an ID release donor does not require your child be in contact with their biological father, but it does give them the option.  I know my mother would give anything to be able to know her father's name; meeting him would be a grand slam.  


I cannot bear the idea of ever making my children resent myself or my wife for preventing them from knowing their biological history.  It's not my place to keep their own biology from them - it's not the children's fault that my wife and I can't make a baby from just the two of us.  


I beg you to not take this decision lightly - choosing an anonymous donor is the end of the line.  


I wish you the best of luck on your journey, may it be short and sweet.  Maybe I'll see you later this year in Queer Conceptions! 



post #4 of 14
We also decided to go with an identity-release donor. I read there have been studies showing the kids are "healthier" knowing they have that option, even if they never decide to use it. I put myself in my future child's shoes and decided I would want to know more about my biology. That is just my personal opinion, and I know many children grow up healthy and well adjusted without that knowledge.

As far as sperm banks go, we decided to go with The Sperm Bank of California. We like that it is nonprofit, and they picture a lesbian couple on their homepage. They also supposedly have the most ID-release donors. They're certainly not the cheapest though. I do recommend choosing a bank with at least a few donors you'd be willing to use. Donors can sell out or become retired, and you don't want to be left high and dry.

Good luck!


post #5 of 14

Good luck with your decision. Just wanted to say, we used all anonymous donors (each girl has a different donor). As an adopted child myself, from a closed adoption, I never felt like there was something missing or that I would have been happier knowing my biological family, so I didn't feel the need to give my children that option (although they can find siblings if they choose to). My adoptive family was the only family I needed. We used Xytex bank for all the girls too and we LOVE them and know lots of other families who have used them too!


post #6 of 14
We used Midwest and are now using Northwest. Since it costs the same for id-release at NW we've opted for that, since it does give an option. It's not a big deal to me, I'm more interested in knowing donor sibs (if there are any who want to meet, especially if they live nearish to us)--I think that having a half-sibling in a friend/cousin type relationship would help a lot with any questions, but I realize that that may not actually happen. Have you thought about photo-matching? I know it's arbitrary (the people at the bank look at pictures of you or your partner and recommend donors that they think look similar, so it depends on their opinion) but it helps cut down on the sheer number of profiles.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks, everyone, for your feedback.  Way to introduce myself to the group with an easy question, right? whistling.gif


Isa – Are you happy with Northwest?  I really want to like them, but finding several negative reviews online scares me.  Those reviews seem to be from a few years, ago, though. 


Just to clarify, I didn’t mean to sound like our leaning towards a non-id release donor is an unconsidered position or one that is based primarily on convenience.  While I am not anti-id release donors by any means, we do feel like privileging id release donors places an emphasis on genetics that is discordant with our beliefs about what makes a family. 


I also worked in a genetics lab for a few years, and that experience really left me feeling like genes are so much less important than environmental and social factors in determining life outcomes.  Nearly all fatal or life-altering genetic abnormalities are likely to be found in childhood which means that if they’re not caught by the bank, having an id-release donor isn’t really all that helpful.  And even among adult onset conditions that have a genetic component like heart disease or diabetes or cancers, the genetic component accounts for far less than environmental, lifestyle, and even random factors. 


And, on a slightly more superficial level, we want a red-headed donor since I have strawberry blond hair that I always wished was redder, and red hair runs in dp’s family.  Since red headed donors are already hard to come by, limiting our donor choices to willing to be known donors means we have about three donors at two different banks from which to choose (after accounting for blood types and CMV status).  Expanding our search to anonymous donors gives us 12-15 options at five different banks, including our two favorite profiles.


So, either way, we’ll be compromising something – either the profiles we like best or knowing the identity of the donor.  Oy!  The first of many compromises and sacrifices on the road to parenthood, I’m sure.


Thanks again for your help, and feel free to continue sharing your experiences with different banks!

post #8 of 14
Karma - We wanted a redhead donor too! I'm a redhead, but DP has dark eyes and hair. We both just love the idea of having a little ginger baby! However, we couldn't find a redhead donor we liked and went with a blond with Irish and Scottish in his background. We've got one vial of his left, and I just found out TSBC has two new redheads, so we'll switch if this try doesn't work. Supposedly, if both bio parents have red hair, you're guaranteed to get a redhead. You would probably know more about that than I.

Good luck getting your ginger baby!
post #9 of 14
To tell the truth, I don't like them as much as midwest, and if this try doesn't work and MW is open when we do our next one I'd be pretty inclined to switch back. We haven't used the goods yet, and our dr doesn't do counts, so I can't answer the question of whether it's good or not, but I don't like their policies much (especially raising the price when a donor's supply gets low. I just think that's crappy and increases stress). But if it works I'm going to be all about them, so who knows?
post #10 of 14

We like Northwest's customer service way better than Midwest.  Although Midwest has good sperm counts, their limitations on offspring is a little sketchy IMO.  There are hundreds for certain donors which is a little much.  But we got pg with Midwest so we're happy in that respect.  We hope they don't go out of buisness because we have 4 vials paid for and really want a full sibling for our DD.  If you do go with Midwest donor 216 seems to make some red headed babies.  If you are feeling strongly about an ID release donor, go for it.  You don't want to regret the decision not to have one once you have already concieved.

post #11 of 14

We used Xytex.  They were friendly and helpful.  Once we had narrowed our donor pool down to (7 I think?), they were able to give us the average post-thaw motile sperm counts and also shared personal impressions of the donors.


Re: ID disclosure - In my opinion, use an ID disclosure donor.  It's true, your child may not care about contacting their donor, but they may care very, very much.  I'm on the DSR mailing list, and some of the donor-conceived adults that post are absolutely gutted by their inability to contact the donor.  Reading what they have to say, and reading what adopted children who want to contact their bio-parents and can't say, I honestly cannot imagine using an anonymous donor.  Because some children will be fine either way, but for other children it's like a constant gaping wound.  It's just not a gamble I would want to take.


And bright-side - If you use an ID disclosure donor, you'll be choosing from a much smaller list, which may cut down on the creepy-baby-engineering feeling you were describing!  Which, btw I totally get.  Picking a donor felt very strange.

post #12 of 14

You might consider reading the COLAGE Donor Insemination Guide.  It's written by and for kids of queers conceived via donor sperm, but was great for us to read as parents.  It nicely laid out how the common issues might play out for kids with anonymous, ID release or known donors, and had a positive but realistic tone throughout.  Pretty much everything Colage puts out is right on the nose, in terms of both affirming our families, and identifying the struggles our kids might have.  I would have loved to have that as a resource before we chose sperm, but it didn't exist then!  No matter what, good luck.

post #13 of 14

I used a non-ID release donor but there is so much info in the donor profile that I Googled his identity in less than an hour. Either way, I see what you are saying about the ID-release thing being discordant with your philosophy. If you do chose ID-release, you should read all the info in their profile a bit more carefully and ask yourself if that sounds like someone you would be ok with your child meeting.


As for choosing the donor, I had a few things that were non-negotiable so it narrowed down the list a lot. To pick from the remaining group, I focused on family health history and gave a little bit of consideration to personality (I am very calm and quiet and dorky so I looked for that). If I had a partner, I would have tried to match the donor to my partner as much as possible. I do see how that can also get weird but it still seems like a logical way to go about it.


In the end, don't over think it cause it make even the sanest person crazy if too much time is spent on it. I have seen people cry for days after finding out that their 1st choice was no longer available. Don't let that happen to you.


Oh, and I used Fairfax (only Fairfax and Xytex are available in Canada). I like the audio clips they have. There is nothing quite as funny as a college student trying to answer questions about why he chose to donate sperm.

post #14 of 14

I used a KD so haven't shopped for sperm in the same way as you! However, I think if I had gone with a bank I would have definitely chosen ID release. I don't feel like genetic connections make a family and I know several people who were adopted who are very happy with having no knowledge of their bio family at all. However, I would not feel comfortable making that decision for my child. Who knows what he or she will want! I feel like, given the choice, if I could at least provide that option for my child to make their own decision about it, it seems more fair somehow. The kid may not have any interest but they might and that slight chance would be a decision maker for me.

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