Donor Sperm Insemination

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.

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.

Success Rates

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.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.