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Donor Sperm Insemination

Donor sperm insemination is also known as donor sperm IUI

Donor insemination is the use of artificial insemination – typically intrauterine insemination (IUI) – using donor sperm. Natural conception is dependent on having a certain number of moving sperm. If the numbers are too low to even consider insemination using your partner’s sperm, then we will typically recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF), possibly with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). If, however, your partner has essentially no sperm or if IVF is not a financially viable option, donor insemination may be offered as an alternative.

Other scenarios in which donor insemination might be used include: treatment for a single woman or same-sex couple, treatment if a male partner is undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer or as an alternative if the male carries a genetic defect that he would not want to pass on to his children.

Sperm donors are typically less than 40 years of age to minimize the potential risk of genetic abnormalities associated with aging. Usually donors are anonymous (unknown), though occasionally a known donor might be used. A sperm donor has to undergo rigorous blood testing to minimize the risk of transmitting a communicable disease. Also, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all donor sperm must be quarantined for a minimum of 6 months prior to use.

Sperm banks (where donor sperm are stored) typically obtain an extensive medical history on the donor as well as his family.

They will provide you with detailed information about his education, appearance, hobbies, and interests upon request. The sperm donor will undergo an initial semen analysis to confirm that the sperm are of good enough quality to undergo freezing and thawing. If selected, the donor will produce further samples which are washed, concentrated, and frozen for at least 6 months. At this time the donor is retested for communicable diseases, and the sperm are then only available for release if all repeat testing is negative.

Preparation for donor insemination includes ruling out other possible causes of infertility.

Therefore a history, physical exam, blood work, and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) will usually be performed. The timing of insemination depends on the regularity of the recipient woman’s menstrual cycle. If she is young and has regular, predictable menstrual cycles, than donor insemination can be performed the day after a positiveovulation predictor kit (OPK) reading. If the menstrual cycles are irregular, and/or if the woman is older, then other medications (i.e. Clomid or gonadotropins) may be added with additional monitoring to increase the chance of success.

The actual donor insemination is a quick, simple procedure that is performed in the office. The woman is positioned on the examination table for a pelvic examination. A speculum is inserted into the vagina to visualize the cervix. The washed semen specimen is placed through the cervix and into the uterine cavity through a flexible narrow catheter. Some people may experience mild cramping or spotting with this; more significant symptoms are rare.

The success rate of donor insemination varies according to the patient’s age as well as the presence of other factors influencing fertility (i.e. endometriosis or tubal disease). In an appropriately selected population, the chance of pregnancy simply using donor insemination ranges from 8-15%. The success rate may be higher if other medications are used to stimulate the ovaries. Donor insemination does not increase the risk of birth defects.


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