We’re considering using an anonymous sperm donor. How does it work in Canada?

Posted by & filed under Aging, IVF, Sex, Sperm, The Basics.

Health Canada has guidelines in place to allow women to have safe access to donor sperm.

However, there are some logistical challenges limiting choice. There is only one Canadian sperm bank: ReproMed, based in Toronto.

To allow for a greater variety of sperm available to Canadians, Health Canada has allowed for the importation of non-altruistically-donated sperm. Including ReproMed, there are three organizations that import sperm, the other two are Outreach Health Service and CanAmCryo. At our clinic we endorse Outreach and ReproMed.

When you choose sperm, Health Canada recommends that women who have never been exposed to Cytomegalovirus (i.e. “CMV negative”) should choose sperm that is also CMV negative. We test for CMV status for all women considering donor sperm.

When you make a purchase you’ll be offered washed and/or unwashed sperm samples. We re-wash the sperm regardless. From our perspective, there’s no functional difference which sample you’d choose to purchase. We see equal pregnancy rates from either approach.

When doing donor sperm inseminations, we ask that women trigger ovulation (usually with Ovidrel), to ensure that the timing of insemination is ideal. We use one sperm unit per cycle.

We’ll provide you with information on the count of the sperm being inseminated, and the average motility. Using fresh samples as a reference frame, we like to see at least 5 million sperm in the washed sample with 80% or greater motility. We won’t always see these numbers with frozen-thawed sperm: you may have a reduced success rate.

The success statistics that support the donor-sperm program are available from your clinical team and can be individualized to your specific situation by your doctor.


Next post, we’ll be covering guidelines for known donors.

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