Information for the public

Donor insemination

Donor insemination

This involves using sperm donated by another man. As a couple, you may decide to consider donor insemination as an alternative to intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Your doctor should offer you both options and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each. Donor sperm can be used for IVF if necessary.

You should be offered donor insemination if:

  • there are few sperm in your semen or they are poor‑quality and you have decided against having ICSI or

  • you have no sperm in your semen.

You may also be offered donor insemination if you have a genetic disorder that could be passed on to any children, an infectious disease that could be passed to the woman or to any children, or if you and your partner's blood groups are not compatible.

If you are considering donor insemination you should be offered independent counselling about the implications for you and any children you may have. All potential sperm donors should also be offered independent counselling to help them think about the implications of donation for themselves, their own children and any children they may have as a result of donating sperm.

For women, before you start treatment using donor insemination you should be offered tests to confirm that you are ovulating. You should be offered tests to check your fallopian tubes if there is anything about your medical history that suggests they may be damaged.

If you are ovulating regularly, you should be offered at least 6 cycles of donor insemination. To reduce the risk of multiple pregnancy you should be offered 'unstimulated' insemination, which means that you are not given fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries during treatment. You should have intrauterine insemination rather than intracervical insemination because this gives you a higher chance of becoming pregnant.

If you have not become pregnant after 3 cycles of donor insemination, you should be offered tests to check your fallopian tubes if these have not been done earlier.

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