Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Let me start off by saying... no one warns you that this is the most difficult process of this entire journey! You are selecting the DNA of your future baby! This persons genes and looks will be something I have to be OK with for the rest of my (and the babies) life. No pressure.
The clinic gave me a list of Sperm Donor Cryobanks that they would accept a specimen from. They would not accept from just any random bank or trusted donor. Here is the list and links to the top sperm banks in the USA:
In order to see advanced information and really get into the nitty gritty details of a donor, you have to pay a membership to the sites. It ranges from $50 for 30 days up to $200 for 3 months, depending on the clinic.
HOT TIP: Want to save some money? Sign up for virtual Webinars with the cryobanks. Some of the banks offer 'How to Choose Your Donor' zoom conference calls and at the end, just for attending you get a free month of premium membership!
I first signed up for California & Fairfax to start with, I like to have options.
It was VERY overwhelming to begin with. So I was very glad I had attended one of the webinars.
Once you are registered, you then have a bunch of filters. The first one to decide on is:
Anonymous - no photos
Baby photos only
Baby-Adult lifetime photos
FYI, most sites only show adult photos with a paid premium membership. Adult pics were a MUST for me, there is no way I could look at a baby and decide based on that. No offence to anyone... I've seen some very cute babies grow up to be not so cute and vise versa!
Also by signing up as a premium member, you get access to voice interviews with the donor! So you can hear his voice, I loved listening to these, it really made it a bit more personal.
The next consideration is if you want your kid to one day know who their donor is or not. This can be a tough decision. On one hand, you think, hey, I'm doing this all on my own, I am the only parent. But on the other hand, you think about the child and when they are old enough, they might want to know their history and and be able to do a family tree. I went with only Identity positive, I want my child to be able to have a choice when they are 18. These options are called:
Anonymous non disclosure - donor has chosen NOT to disclose his identity
Identity disclosure - donor agrees to release his identity when the child turns 18
Washed or unwashed sperm?
One last thing to be aware of is the type of sperm vile your are purchasing. Did you know that a mans cum is mostly semen? With the sperm just hidden in there swimming around?
An unwashed vial is frozen in its most natural state, allowing sperm to remain in the semen. This is OK to use for home insemination and IVF.
A washed vial separates the sperm from the semen. For IUI, you must use a washed vile. As injecting semen directly into your uterus (IUI) can cause major cramping and infections. If you think about it, during normal M/F sex, if a man ejaculates inside, it is only into the vaginal cavity, then the sperm swim up through the cervix and into the uterus!
Baby Daddy Tinder!
When you first start looking at donors, you think... ohhh would I hook up with this guy? 99% of them was a hard no for me haha. So I decided that was definitely not the way to select the donor otherwise I'd never pick one.
Initially I had added on a bunch of filters that I thought I would my baby to have. Like tall, slim, blue eyes (even though mine are brown), nice hair and a few others. But when I got almost no results back I removed all filters except for 1.
Race. Now I know this can be a touchy subject. I love all people and I don't see color as a thing, but when it comes to raising a baby on my own, plus where I'm from in Australia, I chose to only select from white/Caucasian donors.
This was both for my benefit and my future child. Being a single mum would already be hard enough.
What is CMV? Cytomegalovirus is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Over 50% adults have been infected with CMV by age 40 however most people infected show no signs or symptoms.
If you are CMV- most clinics recommend you select only a CMV- donor. If you are CMV+ however, you can select either +/- donor.
Although some clinics will still accept any status donor, most will require a waiver form to be signed should you choose a CMV+ donor and you are negative.
Medical History & genetics
This section was also very important to me. I read through all the family history, most cryobanks will investigate full families medical history, so you can see if anyone in the donor's family has had any major diseases, like cancer, heart problems and so on. If there was a string of issues in the family, I avoided them, especially if I had the same in my own family, which could increase the risk of my child one day possibly getting the same medical problems.
Donor Selection Party!!
After a couple weeks of scrolling every day through countless profiles, signing up to my third cyrobank membership (Xytex), I was feeling super overwhelmed and stressed. It is such a huge decision. I'm also a Virgo, so decision making is not my strongest attribute.
I created a favorites list with all the donors that I liked (just like swiping right on tinder, except you just click the little heart on the donor profile lol), so I'd narrowed it down to... oh like 25 donors. Still way too many.
That is when I decided I needed help, so I shared my cryobank my log in's with the 2 people that knew what I was doing, my mum and my best friend. Believe it or not, even though I have this blog, I have not made my decision to be a solo mum common knowledge with many people except a select few). I wanted their opinions. And opinions I got.
Credit goes to my best friend, she bought the humor to the party! I had created shared google spreadsheet with the donor numbers and she wrote her honest opinions beside each donor and ranked them.
I honestly find these comments she made against some profiles too funny not to share, apologies if these offend anyone, but seriously, was a great mood lightener.
Current Front Runner - cute smile as a kid and an adult
Awkward Kid, Handsome Adult
Great hair - but could be deemed a creep if hair is not maintained as an adolescent/adult. Not to self, purchase shears as a baby shower gift
Looks like he could easily slot into the family
I did a screen share with my mum to show her the donors. She ranked her favorites also and sent me a list of notes for each one.
Luckily enough... it seemed all 3 of us were pretty much on the same page and I was able to get the list down to just 2 donors. I ended up selecting the donor with the same Rh factor blood type as me (negative). I had read that you have slightly better chances of conceiving with the same blood type. Whether of not that is true, I have no idea, but I will go with it!
None of this is covered by heathcare insurance and let me warn you.... IT IS NOT CHEAP! Because I chose a full identity donor, each vile was $1,100. I purchased 4 viles. No one said this journey would be cheap, but wow, I just spent $4400 on SPERM!! You have to laugh at that right? A man shoots his load into a cup for free, the sperm bank freezes it and sells it for these extortionate prices. I think I got into the wrong business!!
Some viles are around the $700 and they are typically unwashed and the donor is Anonymous non disclosure and little to no genetic testing. So choose carefully if you go with the cheaper options.
So to wrap up this post all about sperm, ladies....if you are feeling stressed out trying to pick a donor, you are not alone. It was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make!! Try and make it a little fun.
My top tips to select a donor:
Don't use too many filters initially or you might miss a great donor!
Throw a donor party with your closest gal pals
Know your own medical history
Know if you are CMV +/- and your blood type
Make a shortlist in a separate document
Save the PDF's of the donor's while you are a premium member! Once your membership expires, you will then still have access to them all!!
Stayed tuned for my next blog - Preparing my Body for a Baby