I'm in Canada.
There are three banks: Xytec (Newmarket - suburb of Toronto) and Can-Am Cryo (Hamilton, ON) import sperm from the US.
Repromed is based in Toronto (Etobicoke) and it's a local sperm bank. For me, it's the cheapest. They don't offer open ID sperm, which is fine with me, because there are no guarantees.
Also, I'm anticipating that the laws here will change a lot around sperm in the next 18 years.
Finally, to me it's not worth the extra $100 a vial that Xytec and Can-Am charge for ID release sperm, because they just have to provide you/your child with the most current contact info they have for the donor.
With the 'net, and what I know about the donor, if I wanted to track him down in 18 years, I probably could. I'm jus' sayin'.
Ok, so that's the sperm banks.
So, you look at the catologues, you choose your donor. Repromed wants you to choose three just in case your favourite isn't in. I had an easy time choosing two, I finally just picked a third, and it didn't matter because my first one was in.
You figure out your method of insemination - ICI or IUI, because you want either standard or washed sperm. I'm doing ICI this cycle, so I chose standard.
Shipping. If you're local to Toronto/Hamilton area, it's pretty cheap, they send it by same day courier, depending on the bank you choose, it's between $75 and $100. If you're not, they send it by Fed-Ex overnight.
You order the sperm on the first day of your cycle, I actually waited until CD 5 or so, because some shit was up in the air. If you need them to do the shipping within three business days, you pay an extra charge - $50 or so, depending on which bank. Because of the long weekend, my sperm left Repromed on Wednesday, I picked it up Thursday.
Now, this is where it gets tricky. In Canada, the sperm banks won't ship to your house, as far as I know. I don't know if it's illegal, but they won't do it, so it doesn't matter. You don't actually need a doctor's signature to order (I just faxed my order in), but you do need it to be shipped to a doctor.
I'm lucky - my doctor let me pick it up from her office and take it home. That is not technically illegal, it's alegal - a grey area. At the doctor's office, I went over the shipment with a nurse, she had some paperwork for me, including an information release so that I've allowed them to tell Repromed if I get pregnant this cycle for the purposes of limiting the number of pregnancies per donor, and for various stats and what have you.
We double-checked to make sure that the shipment was from the same date (same ejaculation) and the same donor, and that the donor was the one I'd ordered. Yup, yup, yup.
Then, I took the tank home.
Now you gather anyone in your household or family or social circles who might have a wart, and you use the liquid nitrogen from the tank to burn it off. In my case, my dog.
: Ok, maybe that's just me...anyway.
Then, you pee obsessively on your OPKs until you get a surge. I've been peeing on sticks twice and three times a day. The best, cheap ones are the ones from www.early-pregnancy-tests.com
or something like that. Expect them to take forever to get here, they ship from the US.
Once you think your timing is good, you put on gloves, open the tank, pull out the ladle, which lifts the cane, you pull out the cane, which holds the vials, you pull one vial out, and replace everything.
I held the vial in my gloved hand until it was warm enough to hold in my bare hand - about five minutes. Then I continued warming it in my hand until the semen was liquid. Probably another ten minutes. First it thaws, and it's clumpy, then it liquifies. In that time, you don't want to tip the vial too much, you don't want to disperse the sperm or lose any to the lid or spill it.
You don't get much - 0.8 ml in a standard, 0.6 ml in a pre-washed vial.
Once the semen is liquified, you draw it all up with a tuberculin 1 cc (or insulin) syringe without the needle. I took a small drop and put it on my LUNA fertility lens, and held it up to my light so I could watch it swim around. There were swimmers! Lots of 'em!
I only did that just because I wanted to. If I hadn't seen any swimmers, I probably could have complained to the sperm bank that it was a low count/motility sample, but my lens was filled with them, so I felt good about them being alive and active.
Then, you put your hips up, and lay back, and you insert the syringe and slowly depress the plunger. You want to do it slowly so that you're not spraying the sperm into your cervix (or worse - through it!) and so that they're not bouncing off the walls in there. You want a nice little puddle of sperm just at the cervix.
After that, whatever. You lay there for twenty minutes, you have an orgasm, you have a nap, your call.