Choosing a sperm donor – three unique perspectives (& where to start)
At The Ribbon Box, we know that choosing a sperm donor is a very personal decision and there’s no one-size-fits all approach. Settling on your chosen sperm donor might be the result of months combing through profiles, or maybe you’ll come across a sperm donor who just feels “right”. Either way, the sperm donor you ultimately pick will likely depend on your reasons for undergoing fertility treatment. Are you a solo parent, a lesbian couple or does your partner have male factor infertility?
When choosing a sperm donor, it’s important to speak with your fertility specialist about what’s important. With hundreds of sperm donors currently to choose from, California Cryobank is a worldwide-leader when it comes to donor sperm banking for more than 45 years. California Cryobank is also one of the world’s largest sperm donor banks (view their website here and their profile here).
Whatever your reasons are for choosing a sperm donor, understanding how others went about it can help you decide on who might be right for you.
So, we’ve rounded up advice on choosing a sperm donor from three different family make-ups: a heterosexual couple with male factor infertility, a bisexual woman who may become a solo parent and a lesbian couple who needed sperm in order to create a family.
Read on to discover how these five people went about choosing a sperm donor, for their fertility treatment.
Written by Holly Pigache
We were shocked to find out that narrowing our sperm donor search to 6 ft 3, brown hair and blue eyes resulted in very few matches, so our sperm bank advised us to set wide filters and go from there.
Our sperm donor’s health impacted our decision, too. We looked at sperm donors’ medical records and whether they had a family history of cancer or other genetic conditions.
We also knew we wanted to have an open donor – a sperm donor who’d be happy to be contacted when our kids are 18. Eventually, we narrowed our choice of sperm donors down to two, factoring in personality as well. Our preferred donor described himself as “sarcastic with a good sense of humor”. He also liked to debate, talk about worldly things and had the same favorite animal and food as my husband – we saw this as a sign we had found our sperm donor. We were lucky to also be able to hear the sperm donor’s voice through an interview clip – he sounded funny!”
Last year, Fertility Help Hub’s Journalist and Editor, Holly, underwent fertility treatment. After discovering there’s a shortage of sperm donors in the UK, her UK-based fertility clinic recommended California Cryobank because of their strict donor selection criteria. Here’s how Holly chose her sperm donor:
“As a single person, actively dating, I currently have no idea who I’m going to settle down or have children with. When I was picking a sperm donor, there was (and still is) a very real possibility I won’t find someone in my dating life I want to reproduce with, so I may (happily) end up being a solo parent. This meant my canvas was effectively blank when I chose a sperm donor; I wasn’t trying to match the characteristics of a partner.
Of course, I had to narrow the pool of potential sperm donors down, so the first thing I considered was:
- What might my future partner look like? What physical characteristics in a person do I find attractive? If in the future I build a family with someone who fits my typical “type”, what physical attributes would my offspring need to look like they “fit” in the family?
So, I used California Cryobank’s filtering option to filter by height and ethnic origin. You may find, like me, that things you thought would be important, don’t seem to be when you’re choosing a sperm donor. I thought I’d find eye and hair color important – they weren’t. I also presumed the sperm donor’s religion would influence my decision (I thought I wanted an atheist, but I’ve chosen an Islamic donor). I did, however, narrow down the selection of sperm donors by education level and opted for a donor with a Master’s degree. (California Cryobank donors need at least one semester of college experience, they don’t need to have graduated.)
Naturally, I wanted my fertility treatment to result in fertilized embryos (and a pregnancy down the line) so I made sure my chosen sperm donor’s sample had resulted in previous successful pregnancies. I also looked for a donor with expanded genetic testing (so I could find out if he was a carrier of over 260 recessive conditions) and who was happy for California Cryobank to release their identifying information to my future child when they turn 18.
Through reading the Donor Personal Essays and Staff Impressions, you can learn more about a sperm donor’s personality. In an ideal world, I wanted someone creative, good at math and who managed to convey a sense of humor and kindness in his profile. Yet I felt these weren’t dealbreakers because (as a former teacher) I believe you can teach creativity, nurture talent, develop humor and encourage kindness – something I’ll be doing as a parent.
Lesbian couple, Cleo and Sam went through the process of choosing a sperm donor last year. Here’s how they picked a sperm donor:
“We were pretty open and relaxed about choosing a sperm donor and it didn’t feel like a hard part of our fertility treatment at all. We liked the sound of using a European sperm bank as opposed to one in the UK. We knew that sperm donation is quite popular in Europe so there are lots of donors to choose from. We found a sperm donor who had brown hair, blue eyes, and was tall – so that they would have similar characteristics to us.
When we read our sperm donor’s answers to the personality questions, we were pleased he liked animals, helping the planet and that equality was important to him. He had also written a letter and recorded a voice clip that we could play to our future baby. We both agreed almost immediately on our donor.”
When choosing a sperm donor for fertility treatment, spend some time thinking about what physical and personal attributes you’re looking for. If you’re going through fertility treatment as a couple, have open conversations, listen to what one another feels is important in a sperm donor and be prepared to compromise. It can also be a good idea to narrow the pool of sperm donors down to two – in case you need to change sperm donors.
When you’re ready to take the next step in your fertility treatment and browse California Cryobank’s sperm donors, click here.
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