Donor Conception

The Importance of DNA Ancestry When Choosing Your Sperm Donor

Eloise Edington  |  31 Mar 2022


Over recent years, developments in DNA testing services have become increasingly popular. And why wouldn’t it be? Understanding the ancestry of our parents gives a better insight into our genetic heritage. Although for some people struggling with infertility and wanting to use donor gametes in fertility treatment, not knowing the ancestral history of a donor can be a concern.

At The Ribbon Box, we know that donor sperm can be life-changing; allowing people to realize their dreams of building a family can become a reality. When choosing a sperm donor, finding out about a donor’s medical and ancestral past can help with the decision-making process, so you feel confident you picked the sperm donor that’s right for you.

As a first-of-its-kind service, the industry-leading donor sperm bank California Cryobank (see their profile here) now offers DNA-based donor ancestry information directly to prospective parents and donor-conceived children for certain donors. For over 40 years, California Cryobank (visit their website here) has proudly helped tens of thousands of couples, single parents, and LGBTQ+ clients create their families by shipping donor sperm vials to more than 40 countries.

Read on to find out how California Cryobank DNA Ancestry works, how it can help you pick a sperm donor for fertility treatment and how the DNA report can support conversations with your donor-conceived child about their origins.

By Holly Pigache

How can California Cryobank’s DNA Ancestry reports help me find the right sperm donor?

No matter your reasons for using donor sperm in fertility treatment, picking a donor will be one of the most important decisions you make in building your family.

Unlike other donor sperm banks, California Cryobank offers a DNA Ancestry service to further its mission of equipping families with as much enriching information as possible. Even before prospective parents select a sperm donor, logging in to a free California Cryobank account allows families access to over 50 California Cryobank donors who already have DNA ancestry results as part of this new service. Having detailed information about a sperm donor’s origins helps you choose a sperm donor who feels right for your unique family-building efforts.

How does California Cryobank DNA Ancestry work?

Ancestry information is “stored” in our DNA as tiny genetic variations that are associated with populations of people that have lived in certain geographical locations for generations. By partnering with laboratory Sema4®, California Cryobank provides DNA ancestry reports on over 50 of their donors to trace a donor’s ancestral history back hundreds or thousands of years. This gives intended parents using donor sperm an indication of a sperm donor’s geographical ethnicity.

As well as DNA analysis, the California Cryobank team asks donors about their ancestral history. There is a variety of benefits of having self-reported DNA ancestries to complement DNA laboratory analysis:

  • A donor’s self-reported ancestry may be more specific than one of the 26 geographical locations that can be identified by DNA testing.
  • A donor can report on their experiences and cultural identities that may have been passed down for generations.
  • Including self-reported ancestries creates a more comprehensive picture of a donor’s background.
  • Any parent or donor-conceived child with a free account at California Cryobank can access their donor’s DNA ancestry information, displayed as percentages on a world map.
Fertility Help
A sample report: California Cryobank’s DNA Ancestry reports can identify 26 geographical regions in a sperm donor’s DNA history

Can I just use one of the popular ancestry services available online?

Popular ancestry services require users to upload personal information to an online database – something many parents of donor-conceived families feel reluctant to do. Jaime Shamonki, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Generate Life Sciences (California Cryobank’s parent company), understands this hesitancy:

“Accessing direct-to-consumer ancestry services means sharing your most personal data with an online database, which may not appeal to many sperm donor-conceived families. California Cryobank’s DNA ancestry test empowers our customers and their children to learn more about their donor’s biologic origins without experiencing the privacy trade-offs typically associated with third-party genetic databases. We’re excited to offer California Cryobank families additional valuable genetic information, and to do so in such a way that respects their privacy.”

Fertility Help

California Cryobank is giving TRB readers special access to extended donor profile information with a free Level 3 Subscription ($250 value). Just use promo code: RIBBON24

How can a California Cryobank DNA Ancestry report help me talk with my donor-conceived child about their story?

At one point or another, all children ask their parents about their family and their origins. Hearing stories of how they came into the world helps children develop a sense of belonging and this innate desire is part of the reason personal DNA analyses are so popular.

The urge to belong can be seen in all children – whether donor-conceived or not. Jaime Shamonki says, “Millions of us have accessed our personal DNA-based ancestry reports, and we know donor-conceived children are often just as interested in knowing their own genetic heritage.”

Yet with increased accessibility to DNA reports comes more potential for curious donor-conceived adults to delve into their genetic heritage, once they reach the age of 18. Finding out about their origins later in life can leave donor-conceived adults feeling ashamed, confused or shocked by their background and over recent years, research into donor-conception is overwhelmingly in favor of sharing children’s donor-conceived origins with them from a young age.

Being truthful about a donor-conceived child’s origins can feel daunting but it helps embed a foundation of trust and honesty within the family, and allows children to accept their story without shame, distress or shock. To convey an accurate picture of your donor-conceived child’s origins, wouldn’t it be beneficial to know as much as possible about your chosen sperm donor? Knowing more information about your sperm donor will make sharing your donor-conceived child’s story easier and help you feel prepared for any questions your child might ask.

Parents of donor-conceived children know this isn’t a one-time conversation. Return to the story time and time again, perhaps adding more layers of information as and when you and your child feel ready. When your donor-conceived child is older, a free California Cryobank account also allows them to view information about their paternal genetic heritage through the DNA Ancestry report. Allowing some independent inquiry and your child returning to you with questions can be a supportive way to build your donor-conceived child’s narrative of their origins.

The more information about a sperm donor a prospective parent has, the better equipped they will be to choose a sperm donor for fertility treatment. In years to come, DNA ancestry information about a sperm donor will also help enrich the story of a donor-conceived child’s origins.

Take the next step in your family building journey; click here and make an account to find a California Cryobank donor with a DNA Ancestry report.

Receive special access to extended donor profile information with a free Level 3 Subscription ($250 value) by using promo code RIBBON24

Sema4 is a registered trademark of Sema4 Opco, Inc.

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