Learning Experience about donor sperm and sperm quality

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“WOW!” said one of my students, looking at the rapidly moving sperm cells through the laboratory microscope.
​“It’s amazing to think that someday, one of those sperm is going to help create a baby!”
As a professor of Human Sexuality at the University of Arizona, leading 23 Public Health students into European Sperm Bank Copenhagen facility is a wonderful learning opportunity.Our visit at European Sperm Bank was one of the highlights on our four-week trip to hospitals, clinics, and universities in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark.​


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​By

Lee Ann Hamilton, Professor 
College of Public Health 
University of Arizona 
Tucson, Arizona, USA Prior to climbing the steps up to the facility, most of the college students have never thought about infertility, assisted reproduction technology, single parenting, sperm donation, or the longing for a baby.  Once inside the building, their eyes and minds open wide.   ​After learning about the short process from sperm donation to cryopreservation in the lab, we are welcomed into the warehouse of cryotanks filled with liquid nitrogen and enough sperm to repopulate the world. We learn about the safeguards in place to make sure donor semen is cataloged, stored, and shipped correctly. The work is taken very seriously and carried out with integrity, professionalism, and safety.  

As we walk through the open offices, we are greeted by friendly staff members working in open and bright work spaces.

Caring, compassionate, welcoming, forward-thinking, and fascinating. Those are words that would describe the people we meet at European Sperm Bank.

We are then fortunate to meet with Annemette Arndal-Lauritzen, CEO and Managing Director. Annemette tells us about the history, philosophy, and operations of European Sperm Bank. She patiently and respectfully answers many questions from my students.  So much of the information is brand new and, honestly, “mind-blowing.”  

As a professor of Human Sexuality, I was so excited to learn first-hand about the scientific processes that are helping women achieve pregnancy through donor insemination. 

It is interesting to learn about the extensive screening, interviewing, and testing of donors. As an adoptive mother, I understand how important biological information can be to a child (or adult child).

It is clear to me that with European Sperm Bank values and ethical practices, they are prepared to address the future needs of children created through their hard work.

I’m grateful to know that there are compassionate scientists and entrepreneurs at European Sperm Bank, who work tirelessly to help people achieve their dreams of parenthood.


//posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank

Insemination: ICI, IUI, IVF or ICSI? What to choose?

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Thinking of having a baby through artificial insemination?
​Perhaps you have already talked to your doctor and have been told about the many options – and now you cannot tell one from the other.

For most people, this is new territory and yes, it can be confusing.
So here we have listed the four most common insemination options for those women, who wants to get pregnant with the help from a sperm donor.

​​We begin with the least technical procedure and work our way up, so to speak. 


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ICI or Intra-Cervical Insemination
This procedure uses a flexible catheter or device to insert unwashed sperm directly into the cervix – that’s the area behind the vagina, just in front of the uterus.
This procedure can be done at home (so-called Home insemination) or at a fertility clinic, and it is typically the easiest and least expensive method of insemination. It also most closely replicates natural conception.

​Which kind of donor sperm to use?
For the ICI procedure, unwashed or ICI-ready donor sperm is recommended. Remember that ”unwashed” does not mean dirty or untested: ICI-ready semen is still screened and tested for bacteria and STDs
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IUI, or Intra-Uterine Insemination
For this procedure, a flexible catheter is used to insert prewashed sperm directly into the uterus. This provides a better chance of reaching the fallopian tubes and thus the egg. This procedure is recommended to be performed at a fertility clinic.

​Which kind of donor sperm to use?
IUI-ready sperm should be used for this type of insemination, as unwashed donor sperm placed directly into the uterus may cause anaphylactic shock. “Washing” means that the seminal fluid has been removed along with dead or disqualified sperm cells.
​​The liquid is replaced with a cryo-preservative fluid to protect the sperm cells in the freezing process. This means that IUI-ready sperm is ready for use, and does not need further processing before insemination.


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IVF or In Vitro Fertilization
With this method of assisted reproduction, the fertilisation of the egg happens in a laboratory. An egg is plucked from the woman and placed in a laboratory dish with the sperm.

​The sperm then spontaneously fertilises the egg in the dish. Normally, this takes between 1-10 hours. The fertilised egg is then placed back into the woman’s uterus to develop.

Which kind of donor sperm to use?

Both types of donor sperm may be used.


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ICSI or Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection
This is the most technical procedure of the four: The procedure is similar to the IVF in all aspects except one crucial step: One single, carefully selected sperm cell is manually injected into the very middle of the egg using a tiny needle.

This procedure is normally only necessary in cases with severe male infertility or when the number of eggs available is very low or difficult to fertilise.

Which kind of donor sperm to use?
Both types of donor sperm may be used.
 
Want more information?
It is always best to consult with a doctor or fertility professional before making a final decision. Your choice of treatment also depends on many physical factors such as your age and health.

You are of course also welcome to ask us any questions you may have. Some of the answers may be available already at our website europeanspermbank.com. If not, do not hesitate to email or call us.

We are here to help you!

//posted by Michael. Communications specialist at European Sperm Bank


ESHRE – The European congress for fertility experts

We have just returned from the annual ESHRE congress and we are bursting with happy moments and new, important knowledge.

A main topic was sperm count, sperm quality and how this affects male fertility.

And so of course, we want to share both fun pictures and new information this with you.

Sperm quality
We had our focus on new knowledge in measuring sperm quality in terms of pregnancy rate. This new information derives from studies of sperm cells from infertile men.
A number of commercial kits have been developed to measure oxidative stress (sORP) or DNA fragmentation in sperm cells. The sORP level is higher in infertile men than in fertile men.

The fertile men are defined by standard criteria for normal sperm quality. In the group of infertile men, almost everyone had a lower sperm quality according to the standard criteria.

The studies indicate that the sORP level in sperm cells influences male fertility. There is a direct link between normal sperm quality and the sORP level, as the group of fertile men has a much lower sORP level than the infertile men.
Since we as a sperm bank only accept donors with a higher-than-normal sperm quality, measurement of sORP or DNA fragmentation is not relevant. However, we think this area is very interesting and we would like to contribute with additional knowledge of male fertility.

You can learn about sperm quality and how it is measured here.

Genetic diseases
Another relevant aspect for sperm banks is the screening of sperm donors for genetic diseases. The conference included a lecture about confirmed genetic or suspected genetic diseases in donor children. The conclusion was that it is not possible to screen sperm donors for the thousands of different genetic diseases we know, but that thorough information for women about risks before they embark on fertility treatment is crucial.
We agree that the information for women is very important, and we at European Sperm Bank will work to optimise the genetic screening of our donors along with our counselling for women in order to ensure the best donor choice.

About ESHRE
ESHRE is the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. They work to promote a better understanding of reproductive biology and embryology, to facilitate research and to inform politicians and policy makers in Europe.

//posted by Susanne Timshel, Medical Director and genetic specialist  at European Sperm Bank

Spermbike
As usual, our spermbike got a lot of attention at the conference. This year, the bike has had an adorable little sister. 
Many visitors got some great pictures of themselves on the bikes, and were even kind enough to share in instagram with #spermbike

Grand opening in Aarhus

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In May, European Sperm Bank happily opened the doors to our brand-new office and lab in Aarhus, Denmark.

​After years of looking for that perfect location to replace our old Aarhus lab, we found the most wonderful spot on the second floor of Guldsmedgade 22. 

This space meets all our wishes of spacious rooms filled with light, giving that friendly, welcoming and personal atmosphere.

Come take a look inside!


​Our new office is located at the “Latin Quarter”, which is the absolute oldest part of Aarhus, where buildings date all the way back to the 16th century. The history of the area is clear when you walk around and read street signs like Klostergade (Convent Street), Volden (The Rampart) and Borggade (Castle Street), as all streets are named after the buildings that comprised the old city.

Today, the Latin Quarter is filled with restaurants, cafees boutiques, and small organic grocery shops, giving it that vibrant and friendly atmosphere. So now, our donors can pop by our bank between shopping and coffee with friends.

On the18th of May, we invited our sperm donors, the local fertility clinics and many other business partners to see our new space and celebrate with us with drinks, food and lots of cake. We even had players from our Danish champion basketball team Bakken Bears come and shoot some hoops with us!

Opening day was nothing less than a huge success, where we also opened our doors for curious, potential donors and gave them a grand tour and a talk about being a sperm donor.

We sincerely hope our new, beautiful and welcoming location and the new, modern lab will bring us lots of interested young men, so we can keep doing what we do best: Give life to your choice.

Do you know someone, who would like to become a sperm donor?
We are always looking for new healthy and kind guys from all backgrounds. Check out our new website and find out more about what it takes.

Welcome to Aarhus! 

//posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank

Where do I start?

PictureCEO Annemette Arndal-Lauritzen at Fertilitets-Messen

A couple of weeks ago, we at European Sperm Bank participated in the first ever fertility expo in Scandinavia, Fertilitets-Messen.

​The goal for this expo was essential: More openness!

One of the women we met at the expo, Jane, was there with her mom. She had been thinking about having a child with the help from a sperm donor for years, but she had never discussed it with her friends…


“When I first began searching for information about sperm donors, I really wanted to talk about it with my best friend, who were actually pregnant herself. Even though she would probably love to talk about it, I felt awkward and a bit inferior, because I couldn’t have a baby “the normal way”. The only person, who I was sure would not judge me, was of course my own mother. So I asked her to come with me”, Jane explains.

Seeing so many different people at the expo and talking to all kinds of passionate fertility experts, actually made me call my best friend and say “Hey, I also want a baby, and I’m more than okay by doing it on my own!”.

Jane was far from the only person we met at the expo, who was somehow reluctant to talk about fertility treatment and using a sperm donor. But luckily, as so many other different things in life, it becomes more and more “normalized” the more people talk about it.

According to dr.dk, approximately 10% of children in Denmark are born with the help from infertility treatment. Some people have been struggling for years to conceive a baby, some have been wondering all through their 30’s whether to have a child or not. No matter what – if you have decided to have a child, you don’t want to wait months and years for your dream to come true.

At the expo in Bella Center in Copenhagen, we met a lot of people besides Jane, both single and couples, who were contemplating having children with the help from fertility treatment, and people really seemed to enjoy the open and honest atmosphere where all questions were welcome.

First step

We at European Sperm Bank work closely with fertility clinics all over the world, so please don’t hesitate to contact us, if you need a list of clinics in your home country. If you feel better with some beginner-knowledge about fertility treatment, several Danish fertility clinics has made thorough guides on where to begin. These types of guides offer great knowledge about fertility as well as infertility.

If you already know that you will be needing donor sperm, we recommend that you start by checking our 8-step guide.

You can also check out our FAQ, where you will find answers to the frequently asked questions about donor sperm, purchasing donor sperm, finding a sperm donor, health, safety and much more.

Our role as a sperm bank is to assist you in making the choices that are right for you by sharing our knowledge and giving you the tips that can make a difference. We work every day to give life to your choice to create a family through donor insemination and we are more than 10 years of experience in doing this.

You are more than welcome to contact us!

//posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank

Visit us in Manchester this weekend!

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For the first time, the well-visited Fertility Show London is coming to Manchester, and we will be there to happily greet you and have a talk about donor sperm!

The Fertility Show is for all of you who want to know more about fertility treatment and the use of donor sperm. You will be able to meet us as well as fertility clinics and other health care professionals. There will seminars where you are sure to learn much more about fertility treatment.

We at European Sperm Bank are looking forward to discuss and answer any questions you might have about donor sperm, how to choose a donor, differences between open and non-contact donors etc.

Where?
Manchester Central Convention Complex, Windmill St, Manchester M2 3GX
The Fertility Show takes place within the Exchange Hall.
Find us at booth number B34.

When?
Saturday 25 March 2017 from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday 26 March 2017 from 10am to 5pm.

More information?
Please visit https://www.fertilityshow.co.uk/manchester and their very informative blog


A très bientôt à Paris?

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In collaboration, European Sperm Bank and Vitanova Fertility Clinic are hosting an information seminar in Paris next week,  on March 1st 2017.

This seminar is for all of you who want to know a little bit more about fertility treatment and the use of donor sperm.

You will have the opportunity to learn more about the different options in regards to fertility treatment (e.g. IUI and IVF), and we will talk about the different types of donor sperm, and what the label open and non-contact donor entails.

The meeting will be held in both French and English and there will be plenty of time for questions. Lilian, our donor coordinator and nurse at European Sperm Bank will participate on our behalf, and she will be ready to answer all questions you might have.

To participate in the seminar, please contact Vitanova using this link.


Should you tell your children about their origin?

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The short answer? Yes! At European Sperm Bank our motto is “We give life to your choice”. That choice is a child: A child, we hope will grow up and have a beautiful life. 
 
We are aware that sperm banks around the world vary in their way of handling the donors, mothers and the children. We think a lot about the future, and to us it is highly important that we treat people right and with respect. For us, a part of that respect is not to keep anyone in the dark.

Children born with the help of a sperm donor might experience some difficult issues growing up, just like any other child. We discuss many of these challenges in our other posts on donor children, but right here are a few good reasons why you should tell your child about his or her origin:

  • It puts honesty at the heart of family relationships.
  • It allows donor children to learn about aspects of their history, integrate the knowledge as they grow up and accept their story without shock or distress.
  • It allows donor conceived people to make choices about their lives.
  • It means that significant differences between a child and parent (in looks, talents etc.) can be easily explained.  It also removes suspicion about for example whether the child could be adopted.
  • It means that a true medical history (or lack thereof) can be given to doctors, making diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions more accurate. It also removes anxiety about the inheritance of disorders from the non-genetic parent.
  • It does not mean that donor children will reject their non-genetic parent.

Choosing a donor from a sperm bank that provides you with extended information about the donor, e.g. personality, life goals and interests, may also make it easier to answer some of the question that your child may have.
  
//posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank

A visit from Ladies Circle

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In September, European Sperm Bank had a visit from Ladies Circle at our department in Aarhus. We asked Martha Rasch, one of these ladies, to write a few words on how it was to visit a sperm bank (with absolutely no background knowledge). 

Ladies Circle is an international, independent social networking organisation for young women aged between 18 and 45, founded in 1932. They aim to promote friendship through social contact at local, national and international level and to be of service to the community.


​A main activity of Ladies Circle is to visit and explore companies and when they contacted us for a company presentation, we gladly opened our doors. ​This is how Martha Rasch of Ladies Circle describes her visit:

”On a Wednesday after opening hours, we at Ladies Circle visited European Sperm Bank in Aarhus. Three employees from the bank gave us a company presentation with main focus on how to choose a sperm donor. They also provided us with a little guided tour in the lab, so we could have a look at what it is all about: The sperm cells! 

After the presentation, we talked about all the issues concerning fertility treatment, and what impressed us the most, was that this company sincerely consider and reflect on both morally and ethically issues concerning donor sperm. I got the impression that this certainly is no normal day-to-day job. This is a company with employees, who are indescribable driven and passionate about what they do, and their moral and ethical values go above all. 

For outsiders as we are, it can be very difficult to understand the procedures and the legislation when it comes to handling and distributing donor sperm. Even though European Sperm Bank easily could use more donors because of the high demand, the company will never compromise on quality of the sperm or the fysical and mental health of their donors. Beside the physical requirements, each potential donor has to go through numerous examinations and screenings before he is  approved by the doctors. 

We got the impression that European Sperm Bank have chosen no easy or cheap way to handle all this.
They spend a lot of time and resources to make sure everything is handled in the most proper way and to make sure the quality standards are the highest. I would actually go as far as to say that European Sperm Bank know more about their donors than most women know about their men!” 

//by Martha Rasch, assistant attorney, on behalf of Ladies Circle.