Couples who desire a child but in whom the male partner has a very low sperm count (oligospermia) or no sperm at all (azoospermia) often consider using thirdparty sperm donation and artificial insemination. Donor sperm can also be used by single women or lesbian couples. Many high-quality, reputable commercial sperm banks exist, like Seattle Sperm Bank. They recruit and thoroughly test the donors and provide a listing of their available donors and their characteristics from which the couple can then choose. The donated sperm is obtained from the donor, tested, and quarantined for at least 6 months at the sperm bank. The donors are then retested to ensure that they are still free from any sexually transmitted diseases.

The specimen is released for use only after the test results confirm the donor is free from any infection.

The frozen sperm is then shipped to the physician’s office, and artificial insemination is performed around the time of the woman’s ovulation. Placement of the sperm inside the uterus (IUI) results in better pregnancy rates than placement of the sperm in the vagina or cervix. Frozen donor sperm can also be used for more advanced fertility procedures such as gonadotropin/IUI or IVF with or without ICSI. If a woman wishes to use sperm from a known donor with whom she does not have a physical relationship, then the sperm may need to be quarantined for at least 6 months and the donor retested for infectious diseases before the specimen can be used for fertility treatments. We strongly urge that all patients considering the use of a known sperm donor seek legal advice to ensure complete agreement of all parties involved.