How to Choose your Sperm Donor?

Kristina Garcia
Cryobank Manager at Fairfax Cryobank, Fairfax Cryobank

Sperm donation

From this video you will find out:
  • What kind of donor categories are there?
  • What specimen types are available?
  • What does the donor search look like?
  • What kind of information is available about the sperm donor?
  • How does FairFax FaceMatch technology work?
  • How are sperm samples shipped?

What to look for when choosing a sperm donor?

During this webinar, Kristina Garcia, Cryobank Manager at Fairfax Cryobank, explained the best ways to find a suitable sperm donor, the most important aspects of selecting a sperm donor, how they are screened and what requirements have to be met and more.

Christina Garcia started by setting the main focus of her presentation, where she explanted the donor categories and the specimen types, and she reviewed the donor products. She has also done a live donor search to show how to manoeuvre around the website.

When choosing a donor, one of the things to start with is to simply just sit down, whether it’s by yourself or a loved one or your partner, and write down the characteristics that you feel are very significant to you. Things that you value the most in a person, or things that you value in the family member. Sometimes it could be physical characteristics, everyone has their preference of what type of physical characteristics they like, ethnic background, personality, and education. There are 100 UK donors available, so it’s a wide range variety of UK donors accepted. The important information that we’re going to consider is the donor category and the specimen types.

Donor category

ID donors are UK specific, so ID donors are donors who have donated within the program, and they agreed to release their identifying contact information when the donor-conceived individual turns 18. The donor-conceived individual simply means the donor’s offspring or your adult children, it’s just the new way of saying offspring. The DCI (Donor Conceived Individual) are the only ones that will be able to retrieve the donor’s information, we don’t provide any of the information to the recipients, and also recipients will need to report their birth and also register the DCI so that they can obtain the contact information of the donor. Starting in March 2020, Fairfax started to accept ID donors only.

Specimen types

There are 3 main specimen types:

  • Intracervical insemination (ICI) prep, which is a standard sample with at least 10 million motile sperm, is not washed, so if your medical professional doesn’t have the capability of washing the specimen, you would want to try to use the IUI vial;
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) prep vial is also 10 million motile sperm, but it’s pre-washed before freezing the specimen, so the seminal fluid has been removed before the freezing process, and simply the medical professional will be able to unfreeze and thaw the sperm and use the specimen right away;
  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) has at least 6 million motile sperm. The purpose of this vile was to create it for IVF or ICSI procedures since you don’t need as much sperm, however, if for some reason, you are unable to use an ICI or regular IUI for insemination, you can combine 2 vials for one ICI or IUI.

Vial Preparation Types

There are the IUI, the ICI and the ART, there are also 2 other acronyms that is IVF and ICSI. For IVF and ICSI, you can use the ART vials because you don’t need as much sperm for these two procedures. Most of the time, your clinic or medical professional will be able to wash the specimen before the procedure, and if there are no ART vials available for some reason, you can use the ICI or the IUI vial. You can always ask your medical professional what they prefer and then see what types of vials are available. If you’re doing a less invasive procedure like the IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), make sure that you talk to your medical professional and see if they do have the capability of washing sperm. If they don’t, then the IUI vial type is appropriate to be used for the procedure.

Donor products

Kristina also added that Fairfax Cryobank has a wide range of free products that you can use, and it’s very helpful to narrow down your donor search and see if these are the types of products that you value and are important to you. Free products include:

  • childhood photo
  • the summary profile – a brief overview of the donor’s medical history, and family medical history, which can contain up to 3-4 generations
  • staff impressions – impressions from the staff members on-site, there are 6 different sites (Pasadena, Houston, Austin, Virginia, Philadelphia, Roseville)
  • donor essay
  • audio clips from the donor – brief audio where you can hear the donor’s voice and their responses to a particular question
  • the medical profile shares the personal behaviours of the donor, the sexual history, and donor history, it will sometimes show if they have
  • tattoos or piercings
  • genetic testing summary if the donors are a carrier of some types, it’ll show on the report
  • FaceMatch

Products for purchase include:

  • a personal profile, which is a very extensive profile, and it includes the family info, the donor info and any of their well-being or their likes or occupations, etc.
  • the silhouette is a blacked outside view of the donor, so you can see what the donor side view looks like
  • full audio interview – audio clips in the full-length version, can be like about 15 to 20 minutes
  • personality type – the donors do a test, and they will get the results depending on if they’re introverts or extroverts, etc.

Fairfax FaceMatch

Fairfax FaceMatch is a tool that you can use if you want to compare two facial images. You upload a photo of your choosing, it could be your partner, or it can be a celebrity, anybody you want to choose if you have a frontal view of a picture of the person. It uses sophisticated mathematical techniques to compare the two facial images’ shapes of the facial features to find a resemblance. It’ll show you their children’s photos, but it’ll give you all the different profiles of all the different donors that pull up. The matches are rated based on High, Medium and Low scale, but most people have different face structures, so you might not be able to get higher medium sometimes, it’ll be low. It doesn’t identify with colour, so there’s a section in the box where you can choose if you want blue eyes or different hair colours because that doesn’t pull up.

Donor search

First, you can select the donor category, and for the UK the donor category is ID specific, you can then pick if you want a specific height, or you can do minimum or maximum. If you have an ancestry that you want to decide on Caucasian, Asian, Latino, Black, or Multi, you can click on that. Hair colour, eye colour, education, specimen type.

Then there is an advanced search, the donor brand UK specific is the Fairfax Cryobank, the ethnic background you can click on any, or you can scroll down and see different genres, you can see if there is a specific donor like Welsh, Cuban, European, etc. You can select the skin tone, the hair type, or CMV status, don’t be alarmed because if it says positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the donor has an active infection, it just means that they have been exposed to it in the past where they have gained antibodies, it’s important especially if you’re negative and you must talk to your medical professional and see what their opinion is. You can also select the age range at donation, positive pregnancies, the blood type and RH factor.

Fairfax Cryobank has an expanded genetic panel, and the latest one was 283 or more genetic diseases, so if you’re interested in choosing an expanded panel, you can click on this section. If you know that you are a carrier of a genetic disease and you want to make sure that the donor is negative, you can click on the: select by genetic diseases tested negative. All the expanded panels that we currently have will pop up.   The next feature is lifestyle search, if you’re interested in astrological signs or if you have a favourite subject that you want to relate to the donor, personal goals and talents and hobbies.

Once you click on the profile, you’ll be able to see that, for example, this donor has expanded genetic testing, and if you look at the summary profile, you will see the donor’s information of the medical family history. If you go to staff impressions, it’ll give you physical appearance and personality impressions from the staff, and then there’s also the donor essays about a childhood experience, or if he wanted to travel, etc.

Donor selection services

If you are interested in a photo match, you can provide a photo, and you can select up to 8 donors that you’re interested in, and our team will give you opinions about them. The in-house photos of the adults are not provided, but at least you will get their opinions, and the consultants will help you with any questions you will have.

If you’re unsure, and you just want a specific feature like blue eyes, the team will help you. The selection consultation, it’s not a formal counselling session, you can call them or email them, ask any questions, and they will be able to help you.

Shipping processes

There is one hub in Manchester, and it is possible to ship the samples anywhere within the UK. If you have a clinic that you want to ship within the UK, it’s an option. There is also a possibility to ship internationally, you just have to contact the global centre, and they will be able to help you with the whole shipping process. It’s also important to mention that Fairfax Cryobank does not charge to reserve family slots.


- Questions and Answers

For IUI, can we combine 2 IUI vials at once?

If you’re using a regular IUI vial, that’s sufficient for 1 attempt. Sometimes we do have clients who are doing 2 inseminations in 1 cycle, so that would be when you use 2 different IUI vials. Depending on what your cycle is and the time frame of when they want you to do the insemination, then you can use the 1 IUI vial for the first try and then the 2nd one for the second try in the same cycle, but most of our clients just get 1 vile.

If you have IVF with donor sperm and the embryos didn’t develop well, is it worth doing another round of IVF, or would it be better to try a different donor?

We’ve had instances with recipients asking this question, we leave it up to your medical professional performing the IVF procedure. They will determine if a donor had a pregnancy, so at least there was a success in the past, therefore, we know that the donor is able to have pregnancies. It’s more of your preference if you want to switch donors or not, we leave this for your medical professional. Sometimes if the first 1 fails, they’ll say try a second time, if for some reason the second 1 fails, maybe then that is an option for you to switch different donors, but we do leave it to your medical professional to give you that advice.

Any information of how many sales of specific donors or potential children?

There are so many donors, some of them might have a lot of sales, and so when you look onto the donor search, that’s where you can see if there’s limited availability for the specimen types or if there are many vial types. You can contact our CS global international team, and they will be able to give you a bit more specifics since donors are still actively donating or if they’ve retired and then with their bioavailability as well and then also with the pregnancies.

How do you guarantee FaceMatch outside of the Chi-square?

Once you’re going to start the donor search at the very bottom, you can see where it says FaceMatch, and you can upload a photo. This is where it shows eye colour, and hair colour, which is an added tool because it doesn’t recognize colour. You have the high mediums and lows, and it’s not high mediums or lows all the time, but the technology tries to measure the type of facial shape, so it will be able to match as good as it can. It will use all the internal donors, and the adult photos because we have the donor photos like it’s medically inclined where we show their face we have very close facial features and body type, etc. This will try to recognize the same facial shape of the close-up of the donor.

I picked my sperm donor, it was only a baby photo, on ‘audio’ it said non- ID.

Within Europe, there are different international regulations, so you may be able to choose a non-ID donor. Non-ID donors are specific, they are participating in the program, but they are not willing to release their identifying contact information when the donor-conceived individual turns 18. That’s what, Non-ID donors are, but most of the time, non-ID donors will most likely have a childhood photo but nothing upon that.

I picked a donor where there is no sample available. Shall I contact you for further notice?

If he is on the website and doesn’t have any files available, you can call, or email us and see if they’re available. We do have a donor notification email, so if you signed up with Fairfax, you will be able to get a notification email, it doesn’t guarantee the vial availability, but they will send it when vials have been released for that donor, so it’s important to just contact our global CS, and they can give you that information if there are vials. If he’s active, then we just have to follow our FDA regulations, and once we’re able to release vials if everything comes out clear, and it’s been in quarantine for more than 180 days. We constantly look at inventory to see if we can release additional information. Once we’re able to clear the infectious disease testing, and it’s been more than 180 days, we’ll try to constantly look at the inventory if we can release additional vials.

Is there any place in California bay area for on-site consultation?

Unfortunately, we don’t have our Bay Area location and where everything has been consolidated to our Pasadena location. We can talk over the phone if you have any questions, we also have a client service representative on-site here in Pasadena, and we can talk to you if you have other questions as well.

Why is it important to have washed sperm in the IUI process?

The sperm needs to have the seminal fluid removed from the sperm before injecting with a catheter directly through the uterus. There can be infections created if the seminal fluid has not been removed because if you’re injecting it through the vagina, through the cervix and directly into the uterus, we used to tell our old patients that the cervix is just like a natural wash for ICI vials, so if you’re using an ICI vial, and you’re skipping the process of the cervix and going directly through the uterus, infections can happen. We recommend having an IUI because the seminal fluid has been removed before the freezing process, where your medical professional will be able to thaw the vial out for our protocols, and then they will be able to just complete the procedure.

For IVF, do you have to choose an IVF specific vial?

You can ask your medical professional, but IVF depends on what IVF you’re doing. I feel like they’ve been leaning towards more of the ICSI- IVF where you can inject the sperm directly into the egg, so you don’t need as much sperm, and that’s why we recommend the ART vials, it’s cost-effective, especially when you’re spending money for IVF procedures and if you have at least 6 million sperm. If you’re doing IVF, you don’t need as much sperm as you would need for regular IUI insemination. If for some reason, the donor doesn’t have any ART vials, you can simply use the regular ICI or even an IUI vial.

What is CMV positive/negative?

We do IGG testing and IGM testing. IGG is what they’ve been exposed to in the past, so it’s technically like flu-like symptoms, it’s kind of like the chickenpox family. The majority of people have been exposed to CMV and what it’ll do is that the antibodies of the IGG will appear on the test, and so IGM is specifically for active infections. If the donor has a positive IGM test, then we’re going to destroy all of those vials related to that testing date, and the specimen dates too, and we will go back to the previous specimen date to make sure there are no active infections. Once there’s an active infection, those are discarded right away, we do not sell any IGM positive vials. We also do a CMV NAT, which is very similar to the IGG, but it’s semen, so the IGG and IGM are virology, we do that through blood, and then the CMV NAT is checked at the lab, they are the ones that will determine whether there was any CMV located in the semen. If for some reason, that is positive, then we will also do a discard, and we’ll go to the previous specimen date and discard anything that has any active infections.

Should you choose a sperm donor with the same blood type?

There are a lot of questions related to that. Anybody who has a partner or a loved one, they don’t necessarily have the same blood type, sometimes we do tell you to ask your medical professional because they will give you the actual advice on that because they might have a preference for you. We don’t want to overstep the boundaries of what their decision is for you.

How many vials should each person purchase?

That depends on what you want to do or what type of procedure you want. It’s always best to ask your medical professional what they recommend, but 1 vial equals 1 procedure. If you are interested in having future children, I highly recommend, if you are able, purchase more than 1 or several vials. We do have a storage where you can keep all of your vials here in our office, and all of our storage or vial specimens are located in our corporate office in Virginia. If someone wants to come over to California and they want to do procedures in our state, they can ship out those vials to our location, and we can also store them here. For international, you can contact the global CS as well, and you can talk about the different options if you want to purchase more than 1. It’s up to you whether you want to purchase 1 or 6, but we do have the storage capability, and we can keep those there until you are ready to ship out.

Is it wise to purchase 2 vials even for 1 procedure in case the first 1 doesn’t fall properly?

If you’re doing IVF, a lot of medical professionals will ask for 2 vials, they always ask for a backup vial just in case something happens in their lab. We have our thawing protocols, so what we’ll have will show the paperwork to the laboratory where you’re located, and they will follow the thawing protocols, and if it’s ICI vials, they’ll also have protocols on how to process that vial. The medical professionals are the ones that will advise you if they want 1 or 2, many people have sent 1, and so it just depends on what your lab recommends.

Is it wise to purchase 2 vials even for 1 procedure in case the first 1 doesn’t fall properly?

If you’re doing IVF, a lot of medical professionals will ask for 2 vials, they always ask for a backup vial just in case something happens in their lab. We have our thawing protocols, so we will show the paperwork to the laboratory where you’re located, and they will follow the thawing protocols, and if it’s ICI vials, they’ll also have protocols on how to process that vial. The medical professionals are the ones that will advise you if they want 1 or 2, many people have sent 1, and so it just depends on what your lab recommends.

How long ahead can I reserve a sample (pay in advance, use later)?

Once you go to our website and look under resources, you can click on the terms of use, and that’s the agreement of purchasing sperm and all the other types of agreements that come along with that. We usually say about 24-48 hours, depending on our global CS team, and you can contact them right away and set up shipping or order vials, or if you just want it for storage, the process is up to you on how fast you want to take care of it. They’re available from Monday through Friday, and they can get that order to you right away.

Is it normal that 3 and not 1 vials are utilized for donor IUI?

We don’t use 3 vials for a donor IUI unless you’re using the ART vial, then you’ll want to use 2 of those to combine into 10 plus modal sperm because our regular ICIs and IUIs have 10 million modal sperm, and then the art has the 6 million modal sperm so you can combine those 2 to create for 1 try.

Why do you wait 180 days before releasing the vials?

One hundred eighty days is our FDA requirement that we abide by all the requirements and 180 days from the date of the donor making the specimens, so if he made a donation date today, we can’t release the vial until 180 days after. That’s why, sometimes if the donor availability is either limited or there’s none available and the donor is still active, then we would wait for that period, and we do additional 90-day testing our infectious disease testing and just to make sure we wait 180 days. We know that before that infectious disease has been cleared, after the 180 days, we’ll do another physical as well as the infectious disease testing. If everything looks good, then we’ll do another optional testing, we do it every 3 months after, so the donors are constantly doing infectious disease testing and follow-ups.
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Kristina Garcia

Kristina Garcia

Kristina Garcia is the Cryobank Manager at Fairfax Cryobank and has over 13 years of experience helping patients and clients achieve their dreams of starting a family. She began her journey as a Client Services Representative at Pacific Reproductive Services in 2008, an LGBTQ+ friendly fertility clinic and sperm bank. Kristina played a key role in the 2016 PRS acquisition by Fairfax Cryobank and has recently transitioned to Cryobank Manager, developing clinic relationships and client outreach.
Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.
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