Most people considering a sperm donor are focused on the immediate goal of getting pregnant, but they may not always realize that their relationship with the sperm bank can continue for many years. In addition, prospective parents can become so intent on finding a donor who matches their “wish list” of characteristics that they pay less attention to the policies and standards of the sperm bank itself.
Here are some important questions to ask as you investigate a sperm bank.
- How long has the sperm bank been in business? Consider one with a solid history of experience and success. Sperm banking is a highly specialized industry and not a place to give up quality for quantity. Find out if the business is owned or operated by a physician, or at least has extensive physician involvement.
- What standards and accreditations are followed? The highest standard for sperm banks in the United States is set by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). AATB has a strict accreditation process that only a few sperm banks have undergone. Many other sperm banks claim they have, but simply stating that they meet or exceed AATB guidelines doesn’t necessarily mean they are accredited and routinely inspected. And not all sperm banks in every state must register annually with the state’s Department of Health and Social Services. The Food and Drug Administration only regulates certain areas related to sperm banks, specifically those areas concerning safety and contamination or disease transmission issues.
- How many potential donors are actually accepted? Reputable sperm banks should be highly selective, with an extensive approval process for their applicants that should last several months.
- How are donors screened? Strict screening of potential donors should include infectious disease testing and genetic testing, bloodwork, and rigorous medical histories and interviews. Ask if the donor sperm guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine are followed.
- Is an open donor program available? Each bank can set its own policies for what information is shared and how donor records are kept. If you think that in the future your child will be curious about genetic background or family medical history, you may want to use an “open” or “willing to be known” donor. These donors agree to respond to requests for contact from children who are at least 18 years old.
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018
- Your relationship with a sperm bank can last several years.
- It’s important to scrutinize the policies of the sperm banks you consider.
- Find out what accreditations and other important standards are followed.
- Consider using a sperm bank that has an open donor program if you think your child may want to investigate medical or genetic history in the future.