Therapeutic Donor Insemination
Getting pregnant isn’t always an easy thing to do. In fact, thousands of couples throughout the United States struggle with fertility difficulties on a daily basis. Many of these couples opt to undergo IUI treatment in order to increase their chances of pregnancy. IUI is a very successful fertility treatment, and involves placing a man’s sperm directly into the uterus. But can IUI be performed on couples who are experiencing male factor infertility? Thanks to therapeutic donor insemination, it is possible for couples facing male fertility problems to conceive through IUI procedures.
What is Therapeutic Donor Insemination?
Therapeutic donor insemination, or TDI, is a type of intrauterine insemination that is performed in order to increase the chances of pregnancy. However, instead of using the male partner’s sperm during the procedure, TDI makes use of sperm from an anonymous donor. This allows IUI to become an increasingly valid option for couples experiencing male factor infertility. Sometimes referred to as donor insemination, all donor sperm is carefully screened and tested before it is used during the TDI procedure.
Who Needs Therapeutic Donor Insemination?
Therapeutic donor insemination is typically recommended for couples who are experiencing male factor fertility problems, including:
- erectile dysfunction
- azoospermia (absence of sperm)
- poor sperm count
- poor sperm motility
- failed ICSI
Single women and same-sex couples can also benefit from therapeutic donor insemination.
Who are the Sperm Donors?
Sperm donors for therapeutic donor insemination are generally anonymous. This means that you will not know the name, address, or telephone number of your sperm donor. Typically, these donors are between the ages of 20 and 40 years old and are interested in donating sperm for financial or altruistic reasons. Sperm donors come from a variety of ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. In order to be able to donate, donors must have a sperm count of over 100 million per milliliter.
Is Sperm Donation Safe?
You may have some worries about the safety of anonymous sperm donation. But rest assured, sperm donors are rigorously screened and tested before they are allowed to donate any sperm samples. All sperm banks perform:
- medical checks
- psychological testing
- personal interviews
- STD tests
- genetic testing
These tests help to ensure that your donor sperm is safe for use during IUI. Additionally, all sperm banks freeze and quarantine sperm samples for at least six months after donation. After six months, sperm samples will be thawed and re-tested for any signs of STD infection.
How Do You Choose a Sperm Donor?
Choosing a sperm donor can be difficult, but it is generally based on some or all of the following criteria:
- ethnic or cultural background
- level of education
- physical appearance
- blood type
Most couples try to find a donor who closely matches the male partner in the relationship, or who has a similar cultural background. Your sperm bank will offer you profiles of individual anonymous donors to help you make the decision that is right for you.
Preparing for the Therapeutic Donor Insemination
Before you can begin your therapeutic donor insemination, your reproductive endocrinologist will first need to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. Women will need to undergo pelvic examinations and ultrasounds in order to determine if they are capable of carrying a child to term. It is also essential that there are no problems with the ovaries or fallopian tubes, as ovulation is required for IUI to take place.
You will be asked to monitor your LH levels throughout your cycle, using a test kit provided by your health care practitioner. Because LH spikes just prior to ovulation, these kits are an excellent way of predicting when ovulation will begin. If you are having problems with ovulation, your health care provider may prescribe Clomid or another fertility medication to you. This will help to bring about regular ovulation.
How Is Therapeutic Donor Insemination Performed?
TDI is performed just like regular IUI, except that the frozen sperm sample must first be thawed. Once it is determined that the thawed sperm are still viable, you will be asked to lie down on an examination table. A speculum will be placed inside of your vagina in order to expose your cervix. A thin, flexible catheter will then be inserted through your cervix and into your uterus. The donated sperm are then pushed through this catheter and into your uterus.
You may feel some cramping during the insemination procedure, however, this should only last a few minutes. After the insemination is complete, you will be asked to remain lying down for ten minutes or so. After this, you can go home and return to your regular activities. In two weeks you will return to your fertility clinic for a pregnancy test.
How Successful is Therapeutic Donor Insemination?
Therapeutic donor insemination can be very successful for many couples. However, success rates do vary depending upon your age and fertility history. Women who are under the age of 35 and have no history of fertility problems usually have a 20% chance of pregnancy per TDI cycle.