Donor insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a simple procedure where donor sperm is placed in the woman’s vagina via a syringe. Donor sperm is also used in in vitro fertilization (IVF), and in intracytoplasmic insemination or ICSI. ICSI is the procedure where the sperm is injected directly into a woman’s eggs which have been obtained from IVF.
Sperm donor insemination is the best family building option when a male has severe sperm abnormalities. Couples use donor sperm when the male partner has no sperm or a very poor semen analysis, or when there is a genetic problem which could be inherited from the male. Single women who desire a biological child can also use donor sperm. Sperm donor insemination is also used by gay couples who desire to have a child who is biologically related child to one of the partners.
When considering donor insemination it is important that the couple or individual feel(s) comfortable with the decision. Most doctors and many clinics require or recommend that patients considering donor insemination meet with a counselor who is skilled at clarifying feelings about infertility and donor sperm. Here the couple or individual can openly discuss fears and anxieties while having their questions answered.
Couples and individuals can choose the sperm bank and donor. Information is available about a donor’s physical characteristics, race, ethnic background, educational background, career history, and general health. Sperm banks provide a comprehensive medical and psychological screen of prospective donors.
The Food and Drug Administration and American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines recommend that sperm be quarantined for at least six months before being released for use, after screening for sexual transmitted diseases, HIV and all communicable diseases.
Before proceeding with insemination of donor sperm, a careful medical and reproductive history should be taken from the woman who will carry the child. The female should have documentation of ovulation and examination of the woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes to assure she is capable of conception.
The risk of birth defects from donor insemination is the same as for conception.
The insemination procedure
The introduction of sperm into the woman’s uterus is done as close to the time of ovulation as possible, or in combination with an IVF ovulation induction cycle.
Intrauterine insemination or IUI is a relatively simple procedure that can be performed in a physician’s office. The insemination is usually painless.
Pregnancy rates are directly related to the age of the woman to be inseminated and her ovarian reserve. Women who have no fertility problems, are under 35 years old and whose male partner has no sperm or is female, have the highest success rates.
Success rates for IUI are generally equal to or slightly less than conception rates of couples who conceive naturally.
- Women under age 35 have a 10-20% chance of pregnancy in the first IUI session. The more IUI cycles the greater the chance of pregnancy.
- Women older than 40 have only a 2-5% chance of pregnancy.
Achieving pregnancy may take several cycles. If no pregnancy occurs after several cycles, the doctor will perform additional tests to assure no physical problems including hormonal issues affect her ability to conceive. If a problem is found, it can usually be corrected.
IVF may be the answer if IUI fails. Here fertility drugs that stimulate ovulation may help a woman conceive. If 3-6 cycles fail to result in pregnancy, it is time to discuss other options.
The fertility experts at Virginia Fertility Associates, located Richmond, VA, offer IUI and IVF for women whose partner has no or poor sperm, and for same sex couples seeking to build a family. Find out all your options by scheduling an appointment with the experts at Virginia Fertility Associates.