Selecting Donor Sperm: Part One

Before I started writing this piece, I thought I was having trouble selecting a sperm donor because I was frustrated. It turns out there is so much more to this whole process – so much, in fact, that I divided this blog into two posts.


I haven’t chosen a sperm donor yet.

I had this preconceived notion that picking out a sperm donor would be one of the first things I’d complete on my “to do” list in trying to have a baby on my own.

For whatever reason, I thought there’d be a book that I’d look through and it would contain thousands of donors to choose from. My friends and I would drink wine and we’d discuss the pros and cons of each candidate. In the end, we would all vote unanimously and celebrate that I had selected the best sperm donor of life.

Turns out that picking out a sperm donor is a) hard b) frustrating c) making me feel really shitty.

Below are the steps that I have gone through/am currently going through in order to pick a donor before my first IUI in the Spring.

Step One: My List

Question 1: Open ID or Closed ID?

If you are planning to have a baby on your own in Canada, one of the things you must do is see a social worker. My social worker, Jodi (Mount Sinai) explained that I should see her before I picked a donor.

When we met, we discussed the idea of an Open ID Donor (when the future baby turns 18, he/she has the chance to contact the donor) or Closed Donor (the future baby will not know the donor). Jodi explained that having an Open ID Donor is much better for the child because he/she has the choice of contacting the donor in the future.

Open ID Donor = Check.

Question 2: CMV Positive or CMV Negative?

Before selecting sperm, a woman must figure out if she is CMV positive or negative. CMV refers to a virus that can stay in your body and shows no symptoms. If you get CMV, it can stay in your body for life (Mayo Clinic). If a woman is CMV negative, she must select a donor who is CMV negative because she can develop the CMV virus during pregnancy which is something that can lead to a developmental delay in children (Mayo Clinic). In the United States, 90% of people have been infected by age 80 (Ontario Hospital Association).

A simple blood test can confirm your CMV status.

CMV Status: CMV negative = Check. Not the news I was looking for because my options have drastically reduced.

Question 3: What are you looking for in a donor?

There are three main sperm donor clinics that Mount Sinai suggested so I did research into all three.

  1. Outreach Services (my fave but had some issues with Health Canada so I dropped this from my list).
  2. Can-Am Cryoservices (have heard wonderful things but did not have much of a selection for me).
  3. Repromed (the possible winner).

From there, Jodi suggested I make a list and divide it into three categories “Must Have” “Should Have” and “Added Bonus.”

Step Two: Overanalyze like Mad.

This is where all hell broke loose. I started asking myself so many questions.

Do I need to have the baby look like me? On one of the sites, you can upload a picture of yourself and it scans the picture and potential donors and sees who you can match up with.

Does the sperm donor need to have a specific level of education? How important is education? What about people who are super smart but for whatever reason have not attended post-secondary school?

Should I be looking for a certain occupation? Since I suck at Math and Science, should I pick someone who excels in those areas?

How healthy is the donor? How healthy is the donor’s family? How far back can I look into the donor’s health history?

Does the sperm donor actually have vials available? Some show that the sperm is available but when you go to order it, it is all sold out.

What do his childhood pictures look like? What did he write about in a donor essay (info about him on why he is doing this), what is his temperament report like (is he a calm person?), what were the staff impressions like (do they like him?), what does his audio recording sound like (what vibe do I get from him?)

Step Three: Put Criteria in Database

There was no book with countless pictures to choose from. I had ten donors on each website. So much for my massive list!

Here’s the problem. Why would men in Canada want to donate their sperm? They don’t get paid for it and many don’t want to be contacted 18 years from now with the news of their child. If men do decide to donate their sperm it is usually because they want to give back to others.

In the States, I feel like there is more of a selection (please know that I have no idea if this is the case or not. I just feel like perhaps more men would do it if they got paid).

Step Four: Pick your Donor

I am at this stage.

At Christmas, I asked my family if I could project the potential sperm candidates from my laptop to the family television screen so that they could help me select my donor. Haha! I think I was asking a little too much. I don’t think my family was ready to see donors just yet on our family television especially at Christmas.

My sister explained that she felt like it was too much responsibility and she thought it would be better if I made the decision by myself.

Since December, I have logged onto the sperm donor websites about once a month and have spent several hours per month scrolling through potential donors.

Last week, I spent about two hours searching for a donor, closed my laptop, and cried. Overall, I bet I’ve spent about 20 hours (from December to Feb) in trying to find a donor and I keep getting stuck/freezing every time.

Step Five: Completely Freeze

They say that writing is cathartic and I knew that I was stumped in this process but did not realize why I was so stumped until now.

Today the words just kept coming out of me and my laptop was wet because of all of the tears that kept flowing down my face.

I didn’t stop writing and didn’t grab a Kleenex. I wrote through the painful feelings and I look forward to sharing more with you next week. Some may feel empowered in selecting a donor. Unfortunately, I have been feeling really sad. I promised I’d be real, raw, and messy, and next week’s post will be just that.

Next Week: Selecting Donor Sperm Part Two

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