Treatment With Donor Sperm
Donor sperm is used in different type of fertility treatments. The type of fertility treatment you will receive depends on your personal circumstances and medical history.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) With Donor Sperm
Before undergoing IUI, it is essential that the fallopian tubes are healthy and open (patent). This is checked in one of two ways:
- Hysterosalpingo-contrast sonography (HyCoSy): a vaginal ultrasound to check the fallopian tubes for blockages or a hysterosalpingogram, which is an x-ray of the fallopian tubes.
- Laparoscopy: an operation performed under general anaesthetic where a camera (laparoscope) is inserted through a small incision near your belly button giving a view of your ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes. A coloured dye will be injected through your cervix into your uterus and fallopian tubes.
What happens to the female?
If you are having a round of IUI without fertility drugs then you will be inseminated close to when you are due to ovulate. Depending on your clinic, ovulation will be identified by a blood test or urine test.
Your clinic will provide you with medication to help you produce egg follicles. The clinic will monitor your response to the fertility drugs by transvaginal ultrasounds. When your egg follicles are mature you will be asked to inject yourself with a trigger shot to release the eggs.
Before insemination – What happens with the donor sperm?
The donor sperm is removed from the clinic’s frozen storage and thawed. It is then clinically washed and the faster moving sperm will be separated from the slower moving sperm. The faster sperm will be placed into a catheter, which will be inserted into the uterus.
The insemination itself is usually a painless procedure and takes just a few minutes.
Your clinic will tell you when your insemination will take place, which is usually around 36 hours after you have ovulated.
Like when you have a smear test, a speculum will be inserted into your vagina to keep the vaginal walls apart. A small flexible tube (catheter) containing all the fast moving sperm will then be inserted through your cervix and into your uterus.
You may experience some slight period-like cramping afterwards.
You will find out whether you are pregnant about two weeks after insemination either by doing a home pregnancy test (urine) or having a blood test at your clinic.
IVF (+ICSI) With Donor Sperm
1. Suppression/Down Regulation (daily injection or nasal spray for 2 to 4 weeks or 10 to 14 days):
- You will suppress your ovaries with either a daily nasal spray or daily injection.
- Depending on the medical protocol that your clinic has decided is best for you, the Suppression (or ‘Down Regulation’) stage could take between two and four weeks before the next stage (‘Stimulation’) begins.
- Alternatively, the Suppression stage might take place at the same time as the Stimulation stage and only take 10 to 14 days.
- Regular blood tests and transvaginal scans will take place to see if your body is responding to the medication appropriately.
2. Stimulation (daily injection for 10 to 14 days):
- You will stimulate your ovaries to make egg follicles with a daily injection of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) for between 10 and 14 days.
- You can do the injections yourself or ask your friend, partner, clinic or other healthcare provider to do them for you.
- You will have regular transvaginal scans and blood tests to see how your body is responding to the medication, including how many egg follicles and their sizes.
- You might experience some mild discomfort and bloating towards the end of the stimulation phase.
3. HCG Trigger Injection (one injection 36 hours before Egg Collection):
- When the blood tests and scans indicate that your body has responded to the medication and that you have appropriately sized egg follicles, you will be asked to inject yourself at a specific time with an ‘HCG trigger shot’ to induce ovulation.
4. Egg Collection (takes about 15 to 20 minutes):
- Your eggs will be collected about 36 hours after the ‘HCG trigger injection’.
- Your egg collection will be performed at the clinic under general anaesthetic, heavy sedation or local anaesthetic; your clinic will discuss the best option for you individually.
- Usually you will be able to go home within a few hours of your egg collection.
- You might experience some mild discomfort after your egg retrieval, which can usually be alleviated with pain relief as advised by your clinic, and a hot water bottle.
- It’s a good idea to take it easy for a few days after egg collection as your abdominal area may be a little tender. Also, if you’ve had an anaesthetic you might want to make sure the after effects have worn off.
5. Donor Sperm Preparation:
- The embryologist will remove the donor sperm from clinic frozen storage and thaw it. It is then clinically washed and the faster moving sperm will be separated from the slower moving sperm.
6. Introduction of Sperm and Egg
- Once your eggs have been collected the embryologist will prepare and mix them with the donor sperm in the laboratory. Depending on what the clinic has advised this will either be traditional IVF where the eggs and sperm are left to meet and fertilise in a petri dish, or ICSI where an embryologist will inject single healthy looking sperm into each of the mature eggs.
- Hopefully the eggs will fertilise to become embryos. The embryologist will regularly monitored the embryos’ progress either by sight under a microscope or with an embryoscope technology. You will receive regular telephone updates.
8. Embryo Transfer
- Between two and five days after egg collection, depending on the number of embryos available and the female’s age, one, two or three embryos will be transferred.
- Like when you have a smear test, a speculum will be inserted into your vagina to keep the vaginal walls apart. A small flexible tube (catheter) containing the embryos will then be inserted through your cervix and into your uterus.
- You will find out if you are pregnant about two weeks after the embryos have been transferred either by carrying out a home pregnancy test (urine) or by a clinic blood test.
In The Media
Over the last ten years there’s been an increase in egg and sperm donors coming forward in the UK. This didn’t happen by accident. Media coverage, in whatever way, shape or form, has an important role to play. The more media inches, the more awareness, the more donors come forward.
It is as simple as that.
National Fertility Awareness Week is 30 October – 5 November.read more
Donor stories needed for article for the Sun on Sunday on sperm donation…read more
10 Years since the Ending of Donor Anonymity. What now?read more