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Posted on 02/17/2023 in Fertility Treatment Options

Sperm Donor IVF: Who Is It For, Is It Safe, How Much Does It Cost & Success Rates

Sperm Donor IVF: Who Is It For, Is It Safe, How Much Does It Cost & Success Rates

Nowadays, many singles and couples have to turn to sperm donation to make their dream of becoming parents come true. The donor’s sperm can be used in cases where there is little or no viable and healthy sperm, a woman may desire to have a child on her own, or a female couple might need sperm to conceive an IVF baby. Also, in heterosexual couples with severe male factor infertility due to low sperm count, sperm motility issues, abnormal morphology, sperm DNA damage, sperm DNA fragmentation, genetic causes of spermatogenic failure, or absent sperm, the donor’s sperm may be used.



The Gist: 

●                    Introducing the Inside: What Is Sperm Donation?

●                    What Is Sperm Donation IVF & Who Is It For?

●                    When to Consider Sperm Donor IVF? 

●                    How Does Sperm Donation IVF Work?

●                    A Step–By–Step Look at Donor Sperm IVF 

●                    Is It Safe to Use Donor Sperm?

●                    What Are the Donor Selection Criteria?

●                    How Is Sperm Donation Made?

●                    How Much Does It Cost to Use a Sperm Donor?

●                    What Are the Success Rates of Using Donor Sperm in IVF?

●                    Wrapping Things Up



What Is Sperm Donation?

Sperm donation is the process of producing a sperm sample by the donor to help others expand their families with tiny Miracles. The process involves providing a semen sample either via masturbation or surgical sperm retrieval. Once the semen is collected, it is placed in a centrifuge to extract debris and isolate the best–quality sperm. From there, the semen is examined under a powerful microscope to assess its quality, which includes sperm motility and viability (moving and nonmoving sperm), concentration, and morphology (size and shape). If the semen sample meets established criteria, it can be used for fertilizing the oocytes that day or in the future using the following methods: conventional fertilization, ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection), PICSI (Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), or cryopreserved and banked.



What Is Sperm Donation IVF? 

Sperm Donation IVF is a cycle in which the donor’s sperm (usually collected from a young, fertile and healthy donor) is used to fertilize the oocytes in the IVF lab. It is one of the most effective strategies offered to single women, female couples, and heterosexual couples with severe male factor infertility who cannot use their sperm in embryo generation. 



Who Is It For? 

●                    Single women wishing to conceive on their own.

●                    Female couples desiring to have an IVF baby.

●                    Heterosexual couples with severe male factor infertility.



When to Consider Sperm Donor IVF? 

●              If you are a single woman desiring to mother an IVF baby.

●          If you are in same–sex relationship and the donor’s sperm is required to fertilize your or your partner’s oocytes. 

●           If in previous IVF cycles using the partner’s sperm in fertilization was not successful and led to fertilization failure. 

●             If you have a history of recurrent implantation failures (RIF) or recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).

●             If you are Rh–negative and Rh–isoimmunized, and the male partner is Rh–positive.

●           If there is a high risk of passing on a genetic/chromosomal abnormality/disease or condition on the male side.

●             If your partner underwent treatment that affected his fertility. 


If your partner has been diagnosed with the following: 

●             male immunologic infertility. 

●             Azoospermia (semen without sperm).

●             Severe Oligozoospermia (extremely low number of sperm).

●             Asthenozoospermia (poor sperm movement).

●             Oligoteratozoospermia (reduced sperm count and low sperm motility).

●             Teratozoospermia (abnormal sperm shape).

●             Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (oligozoospermia, asthenozoospermia & teratozoospermia).

●             high sperm DNA fragmentation or sperm DNA damage.

●             genetic causes of spermatogenic failure.

●         If your partner has other conditions that make it impossible to collect or retrieve healthy and viable sperm. 



How Does Sperm Donation IVF Work?

Sperm donation involves sperm cells, also known as spermatozoa, being produced from a donor and used to create an embryo during the IVF process. But before taking the first step in Sperm Donor IVF, you will need to find a Sperm Donor. When it comes to finding a sperm donor, there are two options –– you can use sperm from an anonymous donor or receive a donation from a known sperm donor. Anonymous donor sperm is ready to use right away because it has already been tested and prepared. If you will use the sperm sample from International Sperm Bank and it involves CryoShipping, it may take up to a month to deliver the specimen to your fertility clinic. Whilst waiting for sperm samples to be shipped from abroad may sound so long, getting the donation of semen from someone you know may take up to six months to screen and prepare the specimen. 


If you choose an anonymous donor, there are several excellent donor sperm banks in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to choose from. Most fertility specialists recommend using anonymous donor sperm that can be purchased from a reputable sperm bank.


Whatever option you choose, it’s essential to ensure that your donor has been screened for infectious diseases, and underwent genetic testing including Genetic Compatibility Test (GCT) and chromosome analysis (Karyotyping). In other words, in addition to blood group, Rh–factor, and physical characteristics, the criteria for selecting a donor include assigning a donor who is genetically compatible. You can also undergo Genetic Compatibility Test (GCT) to compare your genetic screening to the donor’s to make sure there is no overlap in genetic conditions.



A Step–By–Step Look at Donor Sperm IVF 

As soon as the sperm donor is chosen, the IVF cycle begins. In vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor sperm is a process with multiple steps. First, the ovaries are stimulated to produce more mature eggs using injectable medications. The next step is egg retrieval –– the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilized with the donor sperm in the IVF lab to create embryos. The eggs are observed the following day to see if any have been fertilized. Then, the embryos are cultivated. And if there are viable and healthy embryos, they can then be transferred to the uterus.



Step 1

Consultation & the donor’s selection

The first session with a fertility specialist routinely includes a discussion of options, basic fertility tests, follow–up fertility tests scheduling, and the donor’s selection or shaping of the desirable sperm donor’s characteristics.


Step 2

Precycle fertility assessment & follow–up session

Infertility workup includes a series of female and male tests, and a follow–up consultation with an IVF consultant after getting the results of your tests. During this follow–up session, your fertility specialist will prepare the treatment protocol Blueprint, discuss with you the drugs protocol, and schedule the next appointment. If the known sperm donor is selected, this step also includes the donor’s comprehensive screening.


Step 3

Controlled ovarian stimulation 

You will start administrating injectable medications to stimulate the ovaries to release multiple oocytes during your menstrual cycle according to a Single or DuoStim protocol. The response of your ovaries to medication will be monitored via ultrasound scans and blood tests during office visits. Once the checkups indicate that the ovaries are ready to release the oocytes, your fertility specialist will schedule an egg retrieval procedure.


Step 4

Egg retrieval procedure

Egg retrieval, also known as follicular aspiration, is a minimally invasive surgical technique done under local anesthesia. You won’t feel this procedure as you will be on intravenous medications. It will take up to half an hour to collect the eggs from your ovaries using a follicle aspiration needle and get the collected follicular fluid and oocytes to the IVF lab. 


Step 5

The donor’s sperm preparation & fertilization

The donor’s sperm sample will be prepared for ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) on the day of the egg retrieval. ICSI involves injecting a single live sperm cell directly into the egg. The fertilization technique can be changed right before fertilization if there would be indications for using the more sophisticated one.


Step 6


Cultivation of embryos usually lasts between 2 and 5 days. During this time, the development of preimplantation embryos is monitored by the Embryologist using time–lapse imaging to visualize cellular events and embryonic morphology. 


Step 7

Mock embryo transfer

Some IVF programs include the mock embryo transfer (mock ET) procedure to have the highest chance of having an easy transfer. It can be performed before the stimulation cycle or right before real embryo transfer. If mock ET is done before ovarian stimulation, there is the possibility of variation in the uterine position, thus, it is better to reschedule the mock ET before real embryo transfer.


Step 8

Embryo transfer

Embryo transfer is a painless procedure usually performed on Day 3 or Day 5 after an egg retrieval for cycles without preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). 


Step 9

Embryo vitrification 

IVF embryos that haven’t been transferred and meet the vitrification criteria can be cryopreserved and banked for future FET cycles. After vitrification, they are deposited in the cryogenic tanks in the clinic’s lab. 


Step 10

Pregnancy test & ultrasound scan

The pregnancy test is done on day 13 or day 14 after the egg retrieval to lower the risk of getting a false positive or false negative result. And first pregnancy scan after IVF treatment is usually performed between weeks 5 and 7 of pregnancy (between 3 and 5 weeks after embryo transfer).



Is It Safe to Use Donor Sperm?

Screening of donor sperm is highly regulated. There are strict requirements for infectious disease testing to help minimize risk and maximize safety when using donor sperm. The donors are screened for many conditions, including genetic testing that allows detecting and avoiding transmission of over 3000 genetic disorders.


If you’re looking to add to your family a new addition, sperm donation is an option to make the dream a reality. And because sperm banks are required to follow regulations for screening and testing, the risks of infectious disease and transmissible genetic disorders are minimal. 



What Are the Donor Selection Criteria? 

Selecting the most appropriate donor for IVF is a strict process in which only the most suitable candidates can be accepted. Fertility clinics and Sperm Banks perform a rigorous psychological, medical, and genetic evaluation before the candidate is approved to be a donor. The candidate is eligible to start the donor screening process if he meets the following requirements:


Being between 18 and 39 years of age.

Being in good physical and mental health.

Having no chronic health problems. 

Healthy body mass index.

Having good sperm quality.

Not suffering from any genetic or sexually–transmitted disease.


Before donating sperm, the donor undergoes screening

After contacting the clinic by sending an email with contact information or calling, the clinic schedules an appointment with the donor where they:

Do a personal interview with the donor and have him fill out a comprehensive questionnaire about health history, fertility history, diseases, family history, and personal habits.

Perform an assessment of the donor’s phenotypic characteristics.

Carry out a psychological assessment.

Perform semen analysis, also known as a sperm count test (this requires a period of 3 to 5 days of sexual abstinence).

Perform a Freeze–Thaw Testing (the donor’s sperm is frozen at a temperature of –196ºC/–320ºF to check if the sperm sample survives this process with the following evaluation of sperm survival, motility, DNA oxidation, and mitochondrial activity).


General and infectious disease tests:

Perform a blood test to identify blood typing and Rh–factor.

Perform a blood test to diagnose infectious diseases and genetic changes (HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, hepatitis B core antibody (anti–HBc, Hepatitis C, and syphilis).

Perform a Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) screening: Chlamydia, Herpes, Haemophilus ducreyi, Mycoplasma hominis, Mycoplasma genitalium, Neisseria gonorrhoea, Trichomonas, Treponema pallidum, and Ureaplasma urealyticum.

Perform Urine Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).


Genetic and chromosomal analyses: 

Perform Karyotyping (a genetic miscarriage test) that involves a blood sample for identifying chromosomal abnormalities that may be transmitted to the child and cause congenital abnormalities or pregnancy loss. 

Perform testing for cystic fibrosis gene mutations.

Perform Alpha thalassaemia genetic test if the donor is a carrier of a potentially pathologic hemoglobin gene that leads to a serious form of anemia.

Perform Carrier Screening for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) that affects the nerves of the spin and causes weakness and muscular atrophy.

Perform a Genetic Compatibility Test (GCT) to identify mutations in the genes that cause recessive and X–linked disorders. Whole–genome sequencing involves taking a blood sample that reveals whether the donor has the genes linked to the most serious autosomal recessive diseases and if there is a risk of transmitting these diseases to the child. 



How Is Sperm Donation Made?

The donor visits the IVF clinic to donate. Samples are collected inside sterilized plastic containers and proceeded to the clinic’s lab for further preparation. When using a fresh sperm sample in IVF, the donor’s sperm is washed and analyzed before fertilization. And in the case of using frozen donor sperm in IVF, the sperm sample is thawed, examined under a powerful microscope to evaluate sperm survival, motility, DNA oxidation, and mitochondrial activity, and used in the ICSI process.



How Much Does It Cost to Use a Sperm Donor?

The cost of sperm donation varies across countries, but a vial of sperm generally ranges from $500 to $2,000. If purchasing more than one vial, it is possible to save up to 20%. In cases that involve the shipment of samples, the cost is higher as it also covers CryoShipper (the delivery container designed for the safe transportation of biological samples at cryogenic temperatures (–150ºC or colder) and delivery expenses. Although health insurance may cover the cost of IUI or IVF treatment, it’s best to consult with your insurance company to determine what is covered. What’s more, IVF clinics may charge registration, shipping, storage, and other fees.



What Are the Success Rates of Using Donor Sperm in IVF?

The highest success rates for IVF using the donor’s sperm are reported in women under 35 years old with no fertility issues. In most cases, the success rates of donor sperm IVF cycles vary from 60 to 80% depending on the person’s age, ovarian reserve, egg quality, fertility potential, and other factors, which are influenced by the fertilization technique used in IVF. For example, the success rate of ICSI is relatively higher than conventional fertilization. 



Final Thoughts

For thousands of single women and couples with severe male factor infertility, using the donor’s sperm is an option to make their families complete. Some singles and couples prefer to use sperm from someone they know. The others choose to undergo the cycle using sperm from a reputable sperm bank. Some have to travel abroad to have Sperm Donor IVF because of legal restrictions or in case of looking for anonymous and altruistic sperm donation, or vs. if they would like to have an Open ID Donor. But whatever option you choose, you will be gifted the Miracle of Life.

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