Artificial Insemination and Sperm Donation
For many women, whether in same-sex of heterosexual relationships, falling pregnant takes time. Your ability to naturally conceive is reliant on a wide number of variables including your age, your diet and health, and whether you’ve been pregnant before. Your partner’s fertility and sperm count is another factor that affects conceiving a baby.
For some couples who have struggled to fall pregnant, it may be necessary to rely on other means of conception. Two examples of these are artificial insemination and sperm donation. In this article we take a look at what these two methods involve.
What is Artificial Insemination?
Artificial insemination is also referred to as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and is one of the less invasive forms of fertility treatments. For this procedure, a doctor inserts the male partner’s prepared semen through the cervix (the womb) and directly into the uterus. This is timed to take place during ovulation to encourage the best chance of conceiving.
For some couples where the partner’s sperm is not usable, single women or for same-sex couples, they may opt to use a sperm donor instead for this procedure.
What is a Sperm Donor?
In some cases, your partner’s sperm might not be usable for a few reasons. Either the sperm isn’t healthy enough to achieve conception or perhaps you want to avoid passing on a known genetic disease. Or if you are single and have opted to have a baby, or have a same-sex partner, then using a sperm donor is a great option.
As with artificial insemination, the donor sperm is inserted into the cervix and through to the uterus around the time of ovulation to encourage conception.
Another alternative is for the sperm donation to be used to fertilise one of the female’s eggs outside of the body in a lab. A sample of eggs is removed and kept alive, ready to be inserted with the donor’s sperm. Once the egg has been fertilised by the sperm, the embryo is then inserted back into the womb, where it will hopefully continue to grow. This is known as In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
How much does artificial insemination and a sperm donor cost?
The cost of artificial insemination and finding a sperm donor can vary. There are specialist fertility clinics that exist to help you with these decisions and provide advice and guidance based on your individual circumstances and needs.
Typically the cost for one procedure of artificial insemination can cost anywhere between $300-600. Keep in mind this does not include consultation fees, and fertility testing will need to take place first to test how well you might respond to artificial insemination. You will also need to consider how many attempts might be needed before you fall pregnant and factor this into your ongoing costs.
This is the same for sperm donation. If you are looking to use an anonymous donor, depending on the clinic, this can cost anywhere between $300 and $4000.
Fertility clinics do not all charge the same fee per procedure, and it is worth researching and meeting with a few different clinics and physicians to make sure you find the one that is the best fit for you personally, not just based on price.
How do you find a sperm donor?
Many fertility clinics will have an inhouse sperm donation program where they can provide you with basic details about your sperm donor. These are typically anonymous donations but the clinic can help you with basic details about the donor’s appearance and medical history to help you make an informed decision. If your fertility clinic does not offer a sperm donor program, they will usually be able to refer you to a local clinic that does or a sperm bank (these are usually a part of main hospitals).
Other couples prefer to find a sperm donor they know and ask a friend or family member to donor for them. This can be a popular decision when the male partner’s sperm is not usable and the couple would prefer to find a close genetic match for their baby.
However you approach the sperm donation process, your doctor or fertility consultant will be on hand to provide advice and support you throughout.
How effective is artificial insemination?
There is no real way to determine this generally, as each couple and individual are different and may have many different reasons behind being unable to conceive naturally. For most couples undergoing this procedure, it usually takes 2-3 attempts before they fall pregnant.
Fertility clinics exist to be able to really support you with this part of your pregnancy journey. They can offer in depth scientifically backed testing and programs to help you and your partner understand your individual fertility needs and create a program that supports you both towards falling pregnant.
It’s really important to speak openly with both your partner and your doctor when you are on this journey. Facing infertility can be stressful and emotional and many fertility clinics offer full counselling support for couples undergoing treatment.