Artificial Insemination Sperm Donor Guide

If a heterosexual couple has male infertility problems, a sperm donor can be introduced to help achieve pregnancy. Sperm donors can also be used to assist single women and lesbian couples who would like to create a family of their own.

Artificial insemination process involves the injection of sperm into a woman’s uterus, and can be carried out in a licensed clinic or at home. The semen can be obtained by contacting a sperm bank, a licensed fertility clinic, or by communicating with a donor directly, for instance via the internet.

What Does the Process Involve?

Before embarking on this exciting journey to parenthood, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
• Should I seek counselling before deciding to undergo this treatment? If you need help with your decision, fertility clinics can provide you with any additional information you require.
• Which method will you use – Intrauterine insemination, IVF through a licensed fertility clinic, or self-insemination at home?
• What is your criteria for a sperm donor, and what questions to ask them?
• Are there any legal issues to consider around who is the legal parent of the child?


medical concept artificial insemination vitro fertilization


Artificial Insemination, IUI and IVF: What’s the Difference?

Artificial insemination, also known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), is a treatment involving the use of sperm, that could be provided by a donor or the partner, in order to enable a woman to become pregnant. During the woman’s ovulation, the sperm is injected into her womb using a thin tube or a syringe. Couples may have IVF (in vitro fertilisation) recommended to them after several unsuccessful attempts at artificial insemination.

How to Use a Sperm Donor?

You can either look for a sperm donor using a sperm bank, a fertility clinic or via the internet. Read more about how to look for a sperm donor.

Before performing the insemination, the sperm of the donor must be carefully screened. Things that have to be checked for include: sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV; infectious diseases (hepatitis B and hepatitis C); or hereditary and genetic disorders (cystic fibrosis or sickle-cell anaemia). Sperm count and sperm motility must also be tested in order to maximise the chances of conception.

Using the sperm of a donor during IUI involves going through the same process as if you were using a partner’s semen. The only difference is that the sample of frozen donated sperm must first be thawed out and then washed before being inserted into the woman’s uterus.

How to Use a Sperm Donor?

Whether you choose to go through IUI at home or in a clinic, the procedure will require the insertion of sperm into your womb immediately following ovulation. For most women, this occurs 12 to 16 days after the end of their period.

Knowing exactly when you are the most fertile can be hard. To work out when you ovulate you may consider different methods, such as using an ovulation prediction kit, undergoing blood tests, or taking your basal body temperature with a basal thermometer. Read more about how to use basal body temperature to know when you ovulate.

Depending on your situation and your doctor’s recommendation, you may need to boost your ovulation by using hormone injections or other fertility drugs. This kind of medication is offered to stimulate the ovaries in order to release several mature eggs. In fact, a woman generally produces one egg a month during ovulation. Vaginal ultrasound scans might also be used to see when an egg is mature and ready to be fertilised.

Artificial Insemination: What is the Method?

Whilst self-insemination is a popular choice for those who wish to remain in the comfort of their own home and cut costs on artificial insemination and IVF treatment, there is an increased risk of infection if the donor has not been correctly screened.

Where possible, we would recommend that recipients seek medical assistance, as this can help to improve the chances of conception considerably in many cases.

By attempting pregnancy without medical professionals, there is also a higher chance of not conceiving.

You will also need to weigh up the pros and cons with your partner, putting you and your child’s safety as a top priority.

What Are the Criteria for Choosing a Donor?

Those looking for a sperm donor will have set criteria for who they wish to choose. Whilst there are the obvious areas such as ensuring they are fit, healthy and fertile, you may also have additional requirements. Knowing as much as possible about the donor is recommended in order to make sure that he is a match. To avoid forgetting anything important, it’s best to prepare a list of questions before the meeting.

What About Legislation?

The woman who gives birth to the child is always automatically assigned as the legal mother.

If the sperm is administered outside of a licensed fertility clinic, and the prospective mother is not in a relationship at the time, the sperm donor is considered the legal father.

Parental orders can be implemented to reassign the legal mother or father if required.

What Success Rate Should I Expect?

Whilst sperm donor insemination generally has great pregnancy rates, it will vary dependent on the age of the woman and whether or not she has any infertility issues at all.

Success rate tends to average out at around the age of 35, and begins to fall above 40 years old. The chances of getting pregnant will also depend on sperm count and the quality of the semen used during insemination. Therefore, advanced screening of the donated sample is highly recommended. Using fresh donor sperm, instead of frozen and thawed sperm, will also help to increase conception rates. Moreover, knowing the exact date of ovulation is essential to improving one’s chances of successful conception.

Finally, more than one woman out of two who goes through intrauterine insemination will become pregnant during the first six cycles of treatment.

Nevertheless, if after 12 cycles of artificial insemination you are still not pregnant, you might consider using another treatment, such as IVF. Read more about IVF.

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