People choose to use donor sperm for a variety of reasons. In some couples, the male partner is sterile and can't provide a sperm sample for intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Single women and lesbian couples may take advantage of donor sperm to help them achieve the family they desire. In other instances, couples may seek a sperm donor to avoid passing on a genetic disease or disorder that is carried by the male partner.
Donor Sperm Insemination
Patients who wish to use a sperm donor can either buy sperm from an anonymous donor in a sperm bank, or ask a friend or relative to donate.
At UCSF, all couples or individuals using a sperm donor will meet with our psychologist to discuss any questions or concerns they have about the process. Raising a child conceived with donor gametes (eggs or sperm) has some unique challenges, and it is important to consider these challenges and deal with any concerns or questions before proceeding with fertility treatment.
How Sperm Donors Are Screened
At the time of the donation, known donors are screened and tested in our clinic for numerous infectious and genetic diseases, including HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations require that the donor be screened and tested within seven days of the scheduled date for IVF or IUI. For the convenience of the patient and the donor, we can screen the donor and collect the sample ahead of time, followed by cryopreservation.
If you wish to use an anonymous donor, then you must purchase the sperm from one of the FDA-approved sperm banks. The sperm will be sent to our clinic already tested for the infectious and genetic diseases listed above. The sperm is usually already prepared for insemination.
The Insemination Process
Donor sperm can be used with IVF or IUI. If you are using a sperm donor along with your IVF procedure, you will still receive fertility medications to prepare your eggs for retrieval. Once retrieved, your eggs will be combined with the donor sperm and any resulting embryos will be transferred back to your uterus for implantation.
For women undergoing IUI, the sperm is inserted directly into the uterus around the time of ovulation to enhance fertilization of the egg.
There are a variety of factors that can affect a woman's chances of conceiving with donor sperm. Her age, past history of pregnancy, method of insemination, and number of inseminations per cycle can significantly impact the likelihood of pregnancy. Women under the age of 35 with no history of fertility problems have the best chance of becoming pregnant with donor sperm.
Because it is possible to do one to two inseminations per cycle, women who fail to conceive after several cycles may be evaluated for fertility problems.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Clinics we work with
Egg Donation Process for Recipients
The process of having a baby through ovum donation may seem complicated, but our doctors, nurses and counselors will guide you through the process step by step.
FAQ: Fertility Services at UCSF
Find frequently asked questions regarding fertility services at UCSF including, when should you consider fertility services, success rates and more.
FAQ: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, involves injecting a single live sperm directly into the center of a human egg. Learn more and find FAQs here.
Infertility Risk Factors
Maternal age is probably the most significant factor related to a woman's ability to conceive. Learn about other infertility risk factors here.
Infertility Treatment Financing Options
The process of resolving infertility can be difficult for many people, and the financial aspects of treatment can be especially daunting. Learn more,
Ovulation induction uses hormonal therapy to stimulate egg development and release, or ovulation, the goal being to produce a single, healthy egg. Learn more.
Reducing Your Risk of Infertility
Your overall health is a reflection of your reproductive health. Give yourself a long and healthy life. Consider these tips to stay healthy.
Reproductive Surgery in Women
Some women have difficulty conceiving because of problems in their reproductive system such as a congenital malformation and require surgery. Learn more here.
Embryo freezing preserves embryos by cooling and storing them at low temperatures so they can be thawed later and transferred to the uterus for conception.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Before beginning IUI treatment, women must undergo an X-ray test, called a hysterosalpingogram, to document that they have at least one open fallopian tube.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves fertilization outside the body in an artificial environment. IVF was first successfully used for human infertility in 1977.