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There are many causes of infertility and while there are many different types of fertility treatments available, couples dealing with male factor infertility are not always able to choose the right successful method. Male infertility factors could be different and different approaches should be used in every specific case. It is important to know that low sperm count, poor motility, or abnormal morphology of sperm can make it very difficult to conceive using your partner’s sperm. However, donor sperm is increasingly becoming a viable option for many couples.

Thanks to modern advanced reproductive technologies, the need for sperm donors has dipped a bit in the last few years. With the invention of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), many couples who once had no hope of conceiving without a donor are now able to conceive. However, for others, sperm donation is still the only option and could be used with high success.


SPERM DONATION – what is it?

Many fertility clinics have sperm banks with selected healthy frozen sperm available for different types of infertile couples. Donor sperm from sperm bank can be used in place of male partner’s sperm during artificial intrauterine insemination (IUI) or during in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is a procedure by which the egg of a female is fertilized by healthy donor sperm.

SPERM DONATION – who can use it?

There are different reasons why a couple or individuals decide to use donated healthy sperm from sperm banks. Sperm donation can be useful in following cases:

  • Infertility with male component – if man has a low sperm count or if man is suffering from azoospermia (absence of sperm in the ejaculate);
  • If male partner has genetic defects which can be transmitted to baby through the father;
  • If both partners have normal reproductive organs but may not be able to have a child because of their Rhesus incompatibility;
  • If single women and/or lesbian couples want children.

SPERM DONATION – how to choose the right donor?

There are two types of donors – known and anonymous. Using a known donor means that you will ask someone you know to donate their sperm for you to use. Using an anonymous donor is more common and refers to obtaining your sperm from a bank. You will not know the name, address or any other identifying details of the donor but you can know other important information – race, colors, physical and psychological indicators which are kept in sperm banks.

In most cases sperm donors are usually fertile healthy men between the ages of 18 and 35. To be a donor, a man must be healthy with no known hereditary, genetic disease or any serious disability. Regular tests are usually done regularly (every 3-6 months) including HIV test and drug tests.

All sperm donors have typical characteristics in sperm bank database. Sperm donors’ habits, physical characteristics, and family history are carefully noted to help in future matching with recipients. Usually there is a quarantine phase till which the donor sperm cannot be used, as during this time it is screened and various tests are carried out to check its quality. The length of quarantine is usually about six months.

It is strongly recommended to undergo psychological counseling before you choose the sperm donor. It is very important to clarify all issues and all emotional feelings before proceeding with any fertility treatment.

Once you make your final decision concerning sperm donation, you can learn more about specific donors and make your final decision based on the donor’s physical characteristics, ethnic and/or racial background, education level and career. Some clinics even can provide the photo (not always!).


Donor sperm can be used during artificial intrauterine insemination (IUI) or during in vitro fertilization (IVF). Only sperm samples that have already been quarantined and tested can be used. The sperm bank will prepare the sperm sample, which involves washing it, before sending it to your doctor or to your fertility clinic.

Female partner will be prepared for the procedure depending on health and reproductive status and depending on chosen method. Some women can use IUI just on ovulation day, some women would be additional hormonal stimulation for extra egg follicles. At around the time of ovulation, through a very simple and painless procedure, a concentrated dose of the donor sperms is placed inside the uterus using a plastic catheter. After about two weeks, a pregnancy test will be performed to see whether the procedure was successful.


If the couple chooses the IVF method, the donor sperm used for IVF will be combined with collected eggs in controlled lab conditions. If any embryos are formed, they will be transferred back to uterus so they can implant in uterine lining. A pregnancy test will be done two weeks later to see whether the IVF was successful.

SPERM DONATION success rate

There could be a variety of factors that can have influence at woman’s chances of conceiving through the use of a sperm donor. These factors include age, reproductive indicators, medical status, past history of pregnancy, method of insemination and number of inseminations per cycle. Women under the age of 35 with no history of fertility problems have the best chance of becoming pregnant with donor sperm.

In most cases couples using donor sperm with IUI have a success rate of about 11-15%. If donor sperm is used during IVF procedure, the success rate is higher – about 20-25%.

SPERM DONATION risk factors

As during any procedure, during IUI with donated sperm there is a possibility of infection transmission, especially if you are using known donor who may not undergo as extensive testing. In cases of using sperm donation from the sperm bank, the infection transmission risk is minimal.

Infertile couple could have legal problems in future if proper contract was not signed with parties involved. It would be wise to draw up a legal contract, with the help of experienced lawyer.

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