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How Many Vials of Donor Sperm Will I Need?

November 22, 2020

Learn more about how many vials of donor sperm you’ll need to start your family and how to use your vial type!

Beautiful young interracial family at home holding their cute little baby son.

A common question from our clients is, “how many tries are in a vial of donor sperm?” The short answer is that one vial equals one try.  

When a donor produces a semen sample, our staff completes a semen evaluation to determine the volume, count, motility, and other parameters.  This data informs how the sample is best processed and frozen for your use.  One sample is often split into multiple cryovials. 

Fairfax provides several preparations or “prep types” of the donor sperm: 

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a pre-washed sample, meaning that the seminal fluid is washed out of the sperm sample; this can be a simple wash or a gradient wash that allows the lab to separate highly motile sperm from non-sperm cells and debris that is normally found in semen samples. 

  • Once washed, freeze media is added to the sample and frozen. IUI samples are used for IUI procedures where the sperm sample is thawed and inserted through the cervix into the uterus. 

Intracervical Insemination (ICI) ICI prep is frozen after analysis and the addition of the freeze media; these samples contain seminal fluid. The ICI prep samples are used for insemination in which the sample is placed onto the cervix. 

  • An ICI vial can be washed by your clinic to be used for an IUI procedure. 

Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART), sometimes called In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) samples can be either IUI or ICI prepped. 

  • ART samples are used for IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), as are the IVF prep vials. 

The Fairfax Specimen Standard for IUI and ICI vials is 10 million Total Motile Cells (TMC) in the vial, and IVF or ART vials have a minimum of 5 million TMC. ART vials have fewer sperm because ART procedures require fewer cells than insemination; > 6 million TMC. Some providers will combine two ART/IVF vials to do the insemination. 

As always, we recommend that you speak to your medical provider about your specific needs based on your fertility status. With no female infertility issues, under the age of 35, there is approximately a 20% chance of achieving pregnancy each month. Every so often a person will achieve pregnancy on their first try. It often takes several cycles of insemination before the procedure results in pregnancy.  

Most people choose to order 2-3 vials per order, others order several more because they are looking ahead and planning for a sibling using the same sperm donor. You can purchase and ship to your clinic or you can purchase and store at the Sperm Bank. Storing at the Sperm Bank allows you to return unused vials for a refund whereas storing off-site means you cannot return unused vials. 

Written by Fairfax Cryobank’s, Director of Operations and Laboratory Director, Michelle Ottey.

Fairfax Cryobank makes it easy for you to understand what type of donor sperm vial is correct for your type of insemination procedure. From home insemination to IVF, use the chart below to find what type of sperm preparation (IUI, ICI, ART, IVF) works for you!

How can I use my vial type infographic

For more information on what specimen type is right for you, visit our Specimen Information page.

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