What Is Donor Insemination?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2018
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Donor insemination is a procedure in which semen is inserted directly into a woman’s reproductive system, usually the vagina or uterus, with the use of a syringe. The semen may be provided by an anonymous donor at a sperm bank, or a donor the woman knows. To be eligible to donate sperm, a man is typically required to be free from genetic disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, or HIV antibodies. The procedure is generally used in instances when a woman has difficulty getting pregnant through intercourse or who does not have a male partner but wishes to conceive a child.

Prior to donor insemination being performed, a doctor will usually monitor the woman’s body for signs of ovulation, such as thickening of cervical mucus or a rise in basal body temperature. Ovulation occurs when a woman’s ovaries produce and release eggs, which can then be fertilized with sperm and result in pregnancy. In order for insemination to be effective, the sperm must be injected into the woman’s vagina or cervix while a woman is ovulating.


One method in which donor insemination may be performed is known as intravaginal insemination, a procedure in which the donor semen is injected directly into the vaginal canal, up near the cervix. This method may be performed by a doctor or the woman herself at home. Intravaginal insemination used to be more common prior to advances in insemination technology, and does not tend to be used as frequently as other, more precise forms of insemination. It is typically not recommended for women who have fertility issues preventing them from conceiving, but rather women who have not gotten pregnant on their own due to lifestyle, such as single heterosexual women or women in same sex relationships.

The more common donor insemination method is intrauterine insemination, in which a doctor injects semen directly into a woman’s uterus. It is generally recommended for those who experience problems with fertility because the procedure is thought to be more precise than intravaginal insemination. Washed sperm, or sperm that a doctor has filtered to remove the actual fertilizing sperm from proteins and other substances, is usually used for this method because it is more concentrated and thought to be more likely to result in conception.

Although donor insemination is generally considered safe, there are some potential risks and drawbacks that may occur. In rare cases, a woman may experience an infection in the area where the sperm was placed. Women who undergo insemination may also be at a higher risk of conceiving multiple fetuses; therefore, a doctor will usually discuss the possibility with his or her patient to ensure she is comfortable with this possibility.



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