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Sperm donation and washing: what's the window period for STDs?
Apr 13, 2012

I'm a lesbian in my 30s, HIV negative, and I cannot wait to have a baby. A really dear friend of mine who's gay too and HIV positive has agreed to be my sperm donor and be a strong presence in the life of the resulting kid (fingers crossed!). we're going to do the sperm washing at SPAR in Boston. It's worth the expense to us for the additional protection, though he is on treatment with an undetectable viral load. In a couple of months we'll go out there for our consult and he'll give his first donation, which I'll eventually use in a cervical cup insemination.

Since we're not in a sexual relationship, and honestly there's no protocol I know of with this, I'm not asking him to abstain from any risk behaviors; he's got his life, and I know he occasionally "serosorts" and has unprotected sex with other poz guys. I'm pretty certain the sperm-washing process takes care of many STDs, and they're going to lay out all the details of that at our consultation, but since he'll also be giving the first sample around the time of our consultation I wanted to ask about this in advance:

How long does it take for other STDs besides HIV to show up? Could he conceivably have a fun weekend a week before he gives his donation, picks up an STD, and the infection is still new and not detectable by the test, and I'm then infected with Chlamydia or something while I'm trying to get pregnant?

I ask about the window period for most STDs because I am strongly considering asking him to refrain from unprotected sex within that period of time, in advance of our consultation. We communicate very well and are each committed to the other feeling safe in every way, so if it came to that we could certainly talk about it. What do you think?

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting your interesting question.

Most STI's (except HIV) show up within a couple of weeks of exposure, but the real issue is that some STIs don't produce symptoms that might trigger testing.

I'd be pretty sure that if you're using an established sperm-washing program, that they'll do the other screening tests needed to make sure that you'll have a safe process.

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