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What Are the Pros and Cons of an IUI with Donor Sperm?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Fertility problems make it difficult for a woman to conceive, but one option that is suitable for couples in which the man has problems with sperm quality or for women who cannot conceive through artificial insemination is intrauterine insemination (IUI) with donor sperm. This procedure involves some medical risks, but it might also bring up psychological issues because only the mother is genetically related to the baby. On the other hand, IUI with donor sperm is a relatively uncomplicated process compared with some other fertility treatments.

An IUI with donor sperm necessitates first choosing a suitable sperm donor. He can be anonymous or a person whom the prospective mother knows. In many countries with advanced fertility medicine, donors generally undergo many tests before an IUI with donor sperm is performed. These tests can identify the presence of infectious diseases and signs of physical defects in the donor.

The donor usually also fills in details of his family's medical history and is tested for blood type. Donor sperm, as tested by reputable medical professionals, therefore is unlikely to affect the health of the future baby. Generally, prospective parents can also choose a donor who matches the parent or parents in physical appearance so that baby does not appear to be unrelated to his or her parents.

Procedurally, IUI with donor sperm is relatively simple and typically can be performed in a doctor's office in less than 20 minutes. The doctor inserts the prepared donor sperm directly into the uterus through the vagina and cervix, so no invasive procedures are necessary. A potential medical risk from the procedure is infection, although this is very rare. If the woman undergoes hormone treatment to boost her fertility before the insemination, she also might suffer side effects from the hormones, such as nausea or mood swings.

This fertility treatment option is suitable for couples in which the male partner has sperm of low quality and who therefore are unlikely to conceive naturally. A single woman who requires a donor can also opt for an IUI with donor sperm, as could a lesbian couple. Healthy women who have no problems with cervical hospitality to sperm, or who are not allergic to sperm, can be treated by a similar procedure known as intracervical insemination (ICI). ICI is not suitable for women who have cervixes that block sperm movement up to the uterus or who have an allergy to sperm, and IUI can get around these problems.

Psychological disadvantages of IUI with donor sperm involve the fact that the male partner in a couple is not genetically related to the child, although the mother is. This might cause problems if the man feels uncomfortable bringing up the child as his own or feels unhappy that he could not father children biologically. Another potential worry is that a donor might wish to be part of the child's life when the records are made available to the child, commonly when he or she turns 18 years old. This issue could arise earlier if the donor is known to the parent.

Donor inseminations also affect the resulting child. The child might have psychological issues arising from the fact that his or her genetic father is unknown. Meeting the donor after the records are available might also be emotionally taxing for the child.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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