Many infants are conceived each year using Donor insemination (DI) method. Couples use donor sperm when the husband/partner has no sperm or a very poor semen analysis (azoospermia, oligospermia, poor motility), or when there is a genetic problem which could be inherited from the male. Single women who want a biological child also use DI.
What is DI?
Donor insemination (DI) uses sperm from a donor to help the woman become pregnant.
Sperm donors are screened for sexually transmitted diseases and some genetic disorders. In DI, sperm from the donor is placed into the neck of the womb (cervix) at the time when the woman ovulates.
DI – IUI uses intrauterine insemination with donor sperm.
Donor sperm can also be used for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
How does DI work?
1. Using donated eggs
Donated eggs can be used in either in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Before treatment takes place, you will need to complete various consent forms.
The procedure for using donated eggs varies depending on your clinic and the fertility treatment you are undergoing. A typical procedure may involve the following steps:
• You and your donor will be given medication to synchronise your menstrual cycles. You will also be given medication to prepare the endometrium lining of your womb for embryo transfer.
• The donated eggs will be fertilised using IVF or ICSI.
• When the embryos begin to develop, they will be transferred to your womb as in conventional IVF. As the eggs will be from donors aged 35 or younger, no more than two embryos will be transferred.
Alternatively, the embryos may be frozen after they have been fertilised. This avoids the need to synchronise your menstrual cycle with that of the donor and may reduce the stress of the treatment.
• Unless you are using donor sperm, before treatment takes place you will give a sperm sample to check that your sperm are healthy and active.
• On the day that the eggs are collected, you will give another sperm sample.
• The sperm sample is mixed with the donor eggs in vitro to fertilise them, or fertilised by ICSI and then transferred to the womb.
Using your eggs in your partner’s treatment
If you are in a same sex female couple and you want to use your eggs and your partner carry the baby, the process for collecting your eggs will be as follows:
• After being screened for sexually transmitted diseases and some genetic disorders, you will be given a series of hormone injections to help develop and mature the eggs within the ovaries.
• Once the eggs are matured, they are collected while you are sedated by inserting a needle into the ovaries through the vagina.
The eggs will then be fertilised, usually using IVF.
2. Using donated sperm
Donated sperm can be used in intrauterine insemination (IUI) (known as donor insemination) or IVF. The treatment you have will depend on your individual circumstances.
3. Using donated embryos
Embryos can be donated by people who have completed their fertility treatment or by those who cannot use them in their own treatment.
How does using donated embryos work?
Before treatment takes place, you will need to complete various consent forms. The donated embryos will have previously been frozen.