Advances in the field of medicine have made it practically possible to donate any parts of one’s body with the exception of one’s soul to another person who might need it. 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 sperm donor.
Donor insemination is a simple procedure that uses a syringe to place semen into a woman’s vagina to assist her in getting pregnant. The semen is normally obtained from someone other than the woman’s husband or partner.
It is essential that both partners feel comfortable with the decision and that all fears and questions be openly discussed.
Couples or individuals usually have the right to decide which sperm bank and which donor to use. Information about a donor’s physical characteristics, race, ethnic background, educational background, career history, and general health should be available.
Donors are excluded from a donor program if he or his sexual partner have experienced any of the following: a blood transfusion within one year, a history of homosexual activity, multiple sexual partners, a history of IV drug use, or a history of genital herpes.
Nature of Insemination
There are basically two types of insemination options: intracervical or intrauterine.
Intracervical insemination (ICI): semen is placed inside the cervical opening and covers the cervix while the intrauterine insemination (IUI): semen is inserted through the cervix and placed directly into the uterine cavity
Cervical insemination is a simple procedure. A soft catheter is passed through the speculum to the cervical opening and the semen is released from the catheter. The woman may be instructed to stay lying down for 15-20 minutes and then a small plastic covered sponge with a string attached may be inserted to keep the semen as close to the cervix as possible. The woman is instructed to remove the sponge in 2-3 hours. With cervical insemination, the nurse can take a cervical swab several hours after the insemination which will reveal how well the sperm are surviving in the cervical mucus.
Intrauterine insemination is often used to increase success rates with frozen sperm. Some sperm banks process the sperm for intrauterine insemination before shipping. If not, the thawed specimen is processed to remove the seminal plasma from around the sperm cells (Intrauterine insemination without doing this process would cause uterine cramping and possible allergic response.) After the sperm is processed, it is injected, using a syringe and thin catheter, into the uterus via the cervix. The insemination is usually painless; some women who have a tight cervical opening experience cramping if an instrument (tenaculum) is used to open the cervix.
Is donor insemination safe?
Donor insemination has been shown to be very safe. Donors accepted by sperm banks are required to present extensive family and personal medical histories.
They are also given thorough medical evaluation that includes screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, the presence of HIV antibodies, and history of genetic disorders.
Pregnancy resulting from donor insemination carries no greater health risk than pregnancy resulting from intercourse.
Success rate of donor insemination in achieving pregnancy
The best success rates of using donor insemination are in the cases where the woman is free of any fertility issues are under the age of 35 yrs old. This number can be affected by method of which procedure is done, since the IUI has a better success rate than the ICI procedure. Lower success rates are reported where there is a female factor (ovulation problem, endometriosis, DES, etc.) Or the woman is over 35.
Common concerns related to donor insemination
There are several things that couples should discuss regarding donor insemination. In most cases concerns focus mainly on what is best for each couple.
It is important to discuss issues such as:
The position of one’s faith on donor insemination? Some religious groups oppose donor insemination.
Absence of hereditary or genetic relationship with the child.
The fact that the sperm donor is often unknown which can prevent the child from knowing their biological history.
One must be psychologically ready to proceed with sperm donation. Most doctors recommend that any patients considering it to see a counselor who is skilled at clarifying feelings about infertility, and about trying sperm donation.
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