Between 1991 to 2016 alone, 12% of all IVF treatment cycles used donor sperm or eggs - this is now around 13,500 fertility treatments every year.
“Infertility has for far too long been treated as an all-female issue. Yet in about half of the cases for the one in six couples in this country who are experiencing problems conceiving, it is the man’s infertility that is the problem.” explains Medical Director, Professor Geeta Nargund.
A woman may decide to use a sperm donor to get pregnant for a number of reasons. For instance, if a male partner is infertile, of advanced age (especially over 45) or has an inherited disease that he doesn't want to risk passing on. Sperm donation is also especially popular with women in homosexual relationships, and single women who wish to conceive. However, using a sperm donor is a big decision to make and there are a lot of things to consider!
This guide will therefore provide you with a brief outline of the key areas to consider before using a sperm donor, but we would highly recommend speaking to a professional for more information.
Things you need to consider
It is normal to have concerns about using a sperm donor. Raising a child that is not related to your partner (if you are not doing this independently) can cause complex emotional issues in your relationship and within your family. Your child will also likely wonder about their biological roots later on in life, so you need to be prepared for this. Furthermore, you need to consider the cost and sperm donation treatment, and be prepared for the outcome: be this positive or negative. For all of these reasons, counselling is offered to all those having this treatment with CREATE.
Choosing a sperm donor
Choosing a trustworthy sperm donor is essential. At the CREATE sperm bank we recruit sperm donors and buy sperm from recognised & licensed donor sperm banks. These banks only use sperm donors that are in good health, have been screened for sexually transmitted diseases and certain genetic disorders. The sperm is therefore assessed as high quality before being approved for donation at our clinics.
However, if you wish to have IVF treatment with CREATE, but wish to use sperm from another bank, or have any questions, please discuss this with your consultant.
Donor sperm treatment options
Two of the most popular ways to get pregnant with donated sperm is via intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
- IUI - Involves monitoring a woman’s cycle until her eggs are fully mature before inserting donor sperm into the womb at the time of ovulation
- IVF - Eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilised with the donor sperm outside the body before being placed in the womb (see Natural and Mild IVF, below
Women often choose IUI if they have a good chance of success because it is cheaper, less invasive and has a shorter treatment process. However, IUI is less likely to be successful that IVF, as about 14% of IUI cycles result in a pregnancy for women under 35, whereas this around 29% for IVF.
Other types of IVF available at CREATE Fertility are:
- Mild IVF - Mild IVF focuses on quality rather than quantity of eggs. It is conducted within a woman’s natural cycle and uses fewer stimulating drugs than conventional IVF: it has a short 5-9 day course of stimulating drugs, rather than the 4-5 weeks worth in conventional IVF. This gently encourages the growth of the follicles before they are extracted for fertilisation
- Natural Cycle IVF - Similar to mild IVF, Natural IVF focuses on the quality of eggs and works within a woman’s natural cycle. This treatment uses no stimulating drugs at all (Natural Modified IVF uses a small dose), and is the closest treatment to natural fertilisation available.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) - ICSI involves the injection of a single sperm into the fluid contents of the egg cell, called cytoplasm. The fertilised embryo(s) is then transferred to the women’s womb via IVF.
If you are in a relationship where male infertility is a factor, you may not necessarily have to use sperm donation. Treatments such as IUI and ICSI can be used to overcome some cases of male infertility.See infertility in men & Male Fertility Test for more information on this topic.
Process of getting pregnant with sperm donor
- Initial scan and consultation - your doctor will give you personalised treatment plan
- Blood tests: (Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, Hepatitis B Core Antibody, Hepatitis C, HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and CMV)
- Counselling session prior to receiving donor sperm treatment
- Treatment consultation with our nursing team - the protocol will be explained, alongside how to administer your medication, and any questions you have will be answered.
- The nurse will help to match you to a suitable donor and help you to fill in the required consent forms* *If you are using donor sperm from an outside source they will give you advice on how to transfer this over to the clinic; we must have this in the clinic before treatment can commence.
Legal implications for you and the sperm donor
After completion of consent forms, you will be regarded as the legal parents to any child born as a result of the treatment. The sperm donor will not be financially or emotionally liable for the upbringing of the child.
See legal rights for egg and sperm donors for more information.
Will my sperm donor be anonymous?
Since 2005 donors in the UK are no longer anonymous. Therefore, if you have a child using donor sperm, they are legally allowed to ask the HFEA for identifying information about the donor once they reach the age of 18, (or 16 if they are planning to marry).
Your child will be able to find out who the donor is and may want to get in touch with them. For advice on how to prepare for this situation, please discuss this with your CREATE councillor at treatment.
Free open evenings
If you would like to discuss your donor sperm treatment options with a fertility doctor and gather information about CREATE’s Natural and Mild approach to fertility treatments, come along to one of our free open evenings.
Our friendly staff are always happy to speak to you and offer guidance on your next steps.
Free downloads that you might find useful:
More information & Support groups:
- HFEA: https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/
- Fertility friends: http://www.fertilityfriends.co.uk/forum/
- The national infertility support and information group: http://nisig.com/
- Fertility matters: http://fertilitymatters.org.uk/