As a single woman, whether working with a fertility clinic or inseminating at home, cryobanks prove to be an excellent source of sperm donors, egg donors and sometimes embryo donors who have been thoroughly vetted and tested. 

In this day and age, it is incredibly easy to access catalogues of cryobank donors through the internet.  Many cryobanks now host interactive websites which allow you to not only learn about the company’s procedures and practices, but also provide you the opportunity to search for donors that meet specific search criteria.

If you are working with a fertility clinic, be sure to ask them if there is a list of cryobanks they work with exclusively, if there are one or two cryobanks they recommend, and if they will authorize you to use a cryobank that is not on their list.

What type of vials you will need:
Cryobanks offer donor sperm in a variety of vial types and it can get a little confusing.  If you are working with a fertility clinic for treatment, you may be advised on a specific type of vial to order or you may be told to use whatever vial you prefer. 

Here is a breakdown of what the different types are and how they may be identified by a cryobank:

ART: Typically, there are 5 million or less motile sperm and this vial is recommended for IVF only due to its low sperm count.

ICI-ready (“unwashed”): These types of vials contain sperm that has only undergone testing, which has not undergone any other procedures other than those required for cryopreservation.  Unwashed sperm is ideal for at-home insemination (also known as ICI), although some fertility clinics will want you to order unwashed sperm because they prefer to perform the washing in their own laboratory.  Motility of sperm is typically anywhere from around 10 million up to 50 million, although 10 million is typically used for both ICI and IUI procedures using frozen sperm.

The benefit of using unwashed sperm for ICI is that the mucus included in the vial may aid in transferring sperm through the cervix.

IUI-ready (“washed”): These vials contain sperm that have undergone testing and, of course, washing.  The washing process entails removing mucus and any non-motile sperm from the sample.  Washed sperm is the only type that is able to be inserted directly into the uterus.  If you order unwashed sperm, your fertility clinic will need to have their laboratory wash the sperm.  Since that process comes at an extra expense to you, it is often most cost-effective to purchase washed sperm if you are ordering for an IUI.

If you are performing an at-home insemination (ICI), you are fine to order washed sperm but it may not be as cost effective as ordering washed sperm.

When choosing a cryobank, you should consider:

  • Types of vials available (ART, ICI, IUI)
  • Cost (including shipping)
  • Types of tests and screening procedures performed
  • Family size maximums per donor
  • Availability of open ID donors
  • Information collected on donors (medical history, test results, personality profile, physical profile, childhood or adult photos)

When choosing a donor, you should consider:

  • Personal medical history
  • Family medical history
  • Genetic test results (if available)
  • Number of live births or confirmed pregnancies (if available)
  • Physical characteristics
  • Personal attributes (education, career, personality)
  • If sperm donor, type of vials available (ICI, IUI, ART) is run by single moms by choice for single moms by choice, dedicated to helping educate, enlighten and empower women who are thinking about or who have decided to have a child “on their own” through donor insemination, egg or embryo donation, adoption or other assisted means.

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