What is donor insemination? 

Donor insemination (DI) is the process of inseminating a woman with sperm obtained from a known or anonymous donor. The procedure is usually performed in natural cycles without the use of any fertility medications. However, fertility medication may be recommended for women in their late 30’s and older, and for those who have been unsuccessful with donor insemination in natural cycles, in order to increase the number of eggs for fertilization.
If insemination with donor sperm is unsuccessful or if there are other fertility factors that indicate the need, in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor sperm may be performed.

Using Donor Sperm. Those who may choose to use donor sperm include:

Sperm donors may be known or anonymous. The type of donor one chooses is a highly personal decision, and will depend on any number of factors. Regardless of the type of donor chosen, various considerations and requirements apply.

Donor sperm is sperm from a male who is not an intended father. The sperm is used through intrauterine insemination or IVF for the purpose of pregnancy. The donor may be known or anonymous but must undergo rigorous screening in accordance with Health Canada guidelines.


Xenith can receive your donor sperm after a consultation, investigations and mandatory counselling appointment have been completed and the sperm must be shipped in accordance to the below policy.

A known sperm donor must be screened with the same methods as an anonymous sperm donor. Legal contracts should be acquired since the role of the known sperm donor in the child’s life may later be questioned. The donor must be screened in Toronto in accordance with Canadian Guidelines and the sperm quarantined for 6-9 months prior to release for use. It is not legal to pay / compensate a known sperm donor.

Anonymous / known donor sperm may legally be purchased through sperm banks which are Canadian compliant. Genesis Fertility Centre only receives Canadian compliant sperm from the following distributors:
Sperm can be chosen that is known or unknown donor identity and may have whatever characteristics (e.g. ethnicity, education, religion etc) are important to the intended parent(s).

Using a Known Donor

Some women may choose to ask a friend to donate sperm. Because this option may raise sensitive questions and decisions in regards to parenting, a number of actions are required prior to receiving a sperm donation.

Using an Anonymous Donor

Those patients who use anonymous donor sperm obtain frozen samples from licensed sperm banks, which must be located in the United States. Xenith Advance Fertility Centre does not own or run a sperm bank; however we are able to assist you in finding this resource.

Sperm banks can vary widely with regard to donor information, identity, ethnicity and medical history; as well as in the number of available donors. Most banks do not provide a picture of donors. Some sperm banks may have a provision for allowing future contact (release of identification) between adult donor sperm offspring and the donor. Some may allow identification in the case of a medical need.

Sperm Bank Procedure. Certified sperm banks must meet specific requirements for donor screening. In order to virtually eliminate the risk of disease transmission, sperm is quarantined. In this process, the donor is tested for infectious disease. Donated sperm is then frozen and held at the sperm bank for six months. The donor is re-tested for infectious diseases before sperm is provided to clinics and patients.

Our patients may choose most any certified sperm bank. Patients are responsible for selecting the given donor and paying the sperm bank directly for the sperm and shipping.

Women may have to peruse the donor lists at several banks before finding the donor you want. We cannot advise as to which donor to use, as this is a very personal choice.

The blood type of the donor would only matter if the patient were using donor sperm in a case where the intended father has no sperm and you would wish that the future child not know that a donor was used. In this case, it might be wise to use a donor whose blood type matches that of the intended father.

We do recommend that patients pay attention to the sperm quality guaranteed by the bank when choosing. Patients will see a wide variation in the minimum number of motile (swimming) sperm that banks provide.  We encourage our patients to work with banks that assure a minimum of 15 million motile sperm per vial after they have been thawed.

Sperm Donation and IUI

Most patients attempting to conceive with donor sperm will begin with intrauterine insemination (IUI). Particularly if the patient is younger and ovulating regularly, we will use a home test kit to detect the LH surge indicating ovulation; and then thaw the sperm and inseminate accordingly.

Other patients may take fertility medications such as clomiphene, letrozole or gonadotropins in conjunction with IUI. The goal in using these medications is to induce ovulation in women that do not ovulate regularly or to recruit multiple eggs (super-ovulation) in order to enhance chances of fertilization.

What to expect from the donor insemination procedure. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is most commonly done in our clinic, as the chances of successful conception are higher if timing of exposure to sperm is controlled, and if sperm is placed in higher numbers closer to the egg(s). 

The donated sperm is delivered directly to our clinic in frozen form, and stored in this state until the day of insemination. On the day of the procedure, the laboratory thaws the vial(s) of sperm, performs a count and evaluates the percentage of motile (normal, forward moving) sperm in the specimen to ensure the best possible results.

of donor insemination are the same as the risks for any type of intrauterine insemination, which include infection, uterine cramping, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. The chances of infection are exceedingly low. Cramping is unusual and if present, very mild.

Sperm Donation and IVF

If multiple IUI attempts have not been successful in achieving a pregnancy or if other female factors exist, IVF with sperm donation may be recommended. Although controversial, there are some studies that have suggested that frozen-thawed sperm is much less effective than fresh sperm in achieving fertilization of eggs with IUI.

When a frozen sperm specimen is thawed, the embryologists will analyse the specimen. If the concentration and/or motility of sperm are low, the embryologist may recommend thawing a second vial or may decide to perform ICSI and inject sperm directly into the eggs.

Donor sperm may also be used as a backup in cases of very severe male factor infertility. In such cases, a urologist will first try to recover sperm surgically from the testicle(s) of the male partner. In rare cases where the sperm recovered is insufficient to inseminate the partner’s eggs, we may recommend that donor sperm be available as a backup.

The following documentation is required for all sperm donation:

For Recipient:

For Known Donor:

Family Code (both recipient and donor sign this)

Types of Sperm that May be Available from the Sperm Bank. There are 3 ways that sperm banks prepare their sperm.

If a patient has unintentionally purchased ICI sperm but need to have an IUI procedure, the sperm can be prepared for this purpose at
our clinic; however this will result in extra cost and loss of some sperm in the preparation process.

Patients should only buy IUI sperm if a medical professional is performing their insemination.

The Physicians at PFC do not advocate that patients buy A.R.T. vials, regardless of the treatment. Because these vials contain fewer sperm than other types of samples, there is a higher risk that there will be insufficient sperm for our needs.

For in vitro fertilization, it is fine to buy ICI-prepared sperm, or if this is not available, IUI prepared sperm. The PFC lab needs to process any sperm that is used for IVF, so there is no need for the patient to pay the sperm bank to do the processing.

General advice when purchasing from sperm banks. Because sperm banks may overestimate the number of live sperm after thawing,
we always recommend that patients purchase more vials than they think you need. This way, we thaw additional sperm if necessary.
We suggest patients have a minimum of 2 vials available for any insemination or IVF cycle.PFC will only accept and store up to 4 vials of donor sperm at a time.

Because sperm needs to be shipped to PFC at least 1 week ahead of any procedure, it is important to plan ahead. In this way, we can make other arrangements should any shipping problems occur, and hopefully maintain the patient’s treatment schedule as planned.

Be advised that should a sample vial thaw with fewer sperm than promised by the sperm bank, their liability is limited only to the cost of replacing the vial.

Shipping frozen sperm to PFC. We receive deliveries of frozen sperm from the banks several times a week.

At PFC, our staff will help our patients with the process of shipping sperm; and will put the shipment on our laboratory schedule so we know when to expect the delivery. Our Tissue Bank Manager will also complete paperwork with the patient to ensure that PFC will store their sperm for the length of time needed. Our staff can also assist our patients with sperm transfer and consents. Cryopreservation of Sperm and Transfer of Sperm consents must be completed prior to the shipping of sperm to PFC.

PFC accepts shipments or drop off deliveries Monday – Friday, 9 am – 2 pm. No specimens are accepted on weekends or holidays.

Where to Purchase Anonymous Donor Sperm

Below is a list of sperm banks that supply anonymous donor sperm. We have worked with all of these sperm banks and have found their sperm quality and customer service to be satisfactory. These banks do a good job in providing a wide variety of donors from all backgrounds.

If a patient is seeking a donor of a non-Caucasian race or a specific ethnicity, one of the larger sperm banks listed below, such as California Cryobank or Fairfax Cryobank, offer a more wide-ranging selection of donors.

The given sperm bank will provide patients with an “authorization” form that must be signed by a physician in order to establish your account. After this point, they may purchase as much sperm as needed.

Please note the following Xenith Advance Fertility Centre requirements for those using an anonymous sperm donor:

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