Questions and Answers for Recipients

Legal Considerations:

According to California Family Code §7613, “the donor of semen provided to a licensed physician and surgeon for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the natural father of a child thereby conceived.” TSBC has a licensed medical director, and semen samples provided through our sperm bank fall under this statute. While this law provides complete legal protection to recipients inseminating with anonymous donor sperm, there have been legal cases in which directed donors sued for, and were granted, parental rights to a child conceived through donor insemination. Recipients who use directed donors can minimize the risk of possible legal challenges by going through a licensed sperm bank, but they are not guaranteed complete protection. We recommend that recipients using directed donors consult with a lawyer to create a written donor-recipient contract. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (1-800-528-NCLR) is a useful resource.

Deciding How Many Visits a Donor Should Make:

One vial equals one attempt at pregnancy. The more visits a donor is able to make, the more vials will be frozen and available for insemination attempts. After each visit the Lab determines the volume of the ejaculate and can see how many vials the ejaculate produced. After each calculation you will be in a better position to discuss how many visits your might want to make. An average ejaculate yields between 2 and 4 one cc vials of semen. One vial equals one insemination. There is no way to predict exactly how many inseminations/vials will produce a pregnancy but on average it takes between 4 and 8 attempts when the vials have at minimum 20 mil motile sperm per cc. There are many variables and we are happy to discuss them with you.    

Deciding What Type of Vials You Need:

What type of inseminations are you planning on doing? Vaginal? IUI? IVF? All? You must decide how you want vials processed when making the appointments for your donor - Washed or Unwashed.  

Regular or raw samples are intended for vaginal home inseminations and IVF. IUI-ready or washed samples have been processed before freezing and are intended for intrauterine insemination (an additional $200 per deposit is charged to wash vials). Seminal fluid contains debris that will causes painful cramping if introduced into the uterus, so the seminal fluid is "washed" out leaving only sperm. All IUI-ready samples are .5cc in volume as this is the maximum volume the uterus can accommodate without cramping and expelling the sperm.

Can I use washed, IUI-ready samples for vaginal insemination? Yes. It is perfectly safe to use a washed, IUI-ready sample for vaginal insemination. Can I use raw, unwashed samples for an intrauterine insemination?  No. A raw sample must be washed first before it can used for an IUI. It is not safe to use a regular, unwashed sample for IUI. If you have regular, unwashed vials and are planning to have an IUI, your medical professional will need to thaw and wash the sample for you prior to the insemination. Insemination must be scheduled within an hour or two of thawing - once thawed a sample cannot be refrozen. Since the process of washing does kill motile sperm and we cannot predict the outcome of these thawed washes. It is our recommendation to have the samples washed before being frozen when ever possible. 

Reminder: You must decide which type of vials you need for each of the appointments for your donor. 

Why TSBC Recommends a Six Month Quarantine of Donor Semen Samples: 

The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Association of Tissue Banks, and the American Society For Reproductive Medicine all recommend a six-month quarantine of donor semen samples followed by repeat blood testing of the donor. The quarantine period is designed to cover the window period between the time an individual is infected with HIV and the time they develop HIV-specific antibodies that are detectable on a blood test. When donors are tested for the presence of HIV antibodies at the beginning of the storage process and then again six months after providing their last sample, recipients can have greater confidence that the samples are free from HIV and other infectious organisms.

The “Known Donor” Option: Waiving the Six Month Quarantine: 

As a licensed sperm bank, TSBC follows New York State Department of Health regulations for Tissue Banks. According to these regulations, “If the semen to be released originates from a directed donor, the recipient may be given the opportunity to waive the quarantine period in writing after being advised by the [sperm bank] director, his/her designee, or the physician performing the insemination of the risks involved in doing so.” We strongly encourage all recipients to consult with a medical professional regarding the risks involved in waiving the quarantine period. If a recipient waives the quarantine period, her donor will be designated a “known donor,” and the recipient must sign a waiver assuming any and all risks of using semen samples that have not been quarantined. Every ejaculate stored must be stored within (before or after) 7 days of a STD blood draw. All blood draws must be done in the TSBC Lab. 

Release of Samples: 

A directed donor’s semen samples are releasable only after TSBC receives the results of his six-month blood draw; this blood draw must be done six months (180 days) after the last semen sample is provided. Therefore, we recommend grouping storage visits within the shortest time period possible so we can release all samples at once and the donor and recipient can avoid the expense of repeating the exit blood draw. If storage visits extend over a period longer than three months, the directed donor must repeat all the initial testing for sexually transmissible infections. This is another argument for expediting the storage process.

A known donor’s samples are releasable once the initial screening is complete and the results have been signed off by our Medical Director; this generally takes up to 30 days.  If the donor returns and stores additional ejaculates he will need to repeat the screening blood draw if more than 7 days have passed since the last storage visit. Any vials in a Known Donor account are releasable after the STD testing performed has been signed off by our Medical Director. 

Once samples are releasable, the recipient should call to arrange for their retrieval; there is a release form to fill out and there are fees associated with retrieval and shipping. Recipients can either pick up samples at TSBC’s offices, or make arrangements to have the samples shipped.

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