What do I need to know about donor sperm IUI treatment?

Intrauterine insemination using donor sperm (also known as donor sperm IUI) is a form of fertility treatment which uses good quality donor sperm. This sperm is collected through a process that separates good quality sperm from sperm that are sluggish or non-moving. The “good” sperm is then introduced into the womb cavity through the cervix.

One IUI treatment cycle takes place over about a month and includes two to three scans followed by an IUI procedure. Scans are performed to make sure you have healthy eggs growing and will help us to choose the best time to inseminate you for the greatest chance of a successful pregnancy.

This treatment might be a suitable option for you if you:

  • Are in a heterosexual relationship where a fertility issue has been recognised in the male partner
  • Are a single woman looking to get pregnant
  • Are in a female same-sex relationship and wanting to have a baby

Where do I get donor sperm from and what will I know about my sperm donor?

We are able to give you the contact details of the andrology labs that we work with so that you can arrange to get sperm to our laboratory. All our partner labs have due accreditation and we have well established processes in place to ensure safe delivery of your chosen sperm. We can only work with donations through accredited sperm banks, and we are unable to use the sperm of a donor known to you outside of this process.

All labs will provide the full medical history of donors and will have screened the sperm for any genetic health conditions. Most will also provide information about certain physical characteristics (for example, hair and eye colour), while others may also provide information on IQ or the profession of the donor. You will also find out how many sperm samples are still available from this donor.

How successful is IUI treatment?

IUI with donor sperm generally has a success rate of around 15 – 20 per cent per cycle. Factors such as the woman’s age, BMI and medical history can influence how successful the treatment can be.

We only accept women under the age of 42 and with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 35. Success rates of IUI outside of these criteria are extremely low and high BMI is associated with complications such as high blood pressure and diabetes in pregnancy.  If your BMI is above 35 we recommend that you lose some weight before your begin your fertility treatment. You can find your BMI here

What does IUI using donor sperm cost?

There are only very few situations where donor sperm IUI would be offered on the NHS, and most patients would need to pay privately for their IUI fertility treatment. However, we would always advise you to speak to your GP in the first instance to see if you are eligible for NHS treatment. If not, then UCLH Private Healthcare would be available to support you through your fertility treatment.

A package of three cycles of IUI at UCLH Private Healthcare costs around £2000 with some small additional charges. Full details of our current prices can be found on our fertility services page.

You can choose to book a single cycle or a package of three cycles of treatment. If you choose a three-cycle option, you will be refunded for any cycles you do not use should you fall pregnant. 

What do I need to do if I think IUI is right for me?

Once you have decided that you wish to pursue IUI treatment, please contact us to book a consultation on uclh.fitzroviasuite.wh@nhs.net or by calling 07890 399059. The UCLH Private Healthcare team is part of the reproductive medicine unit at UCLH NHS Foundation Trust. This is one of the largest reproductive medicine services in the country and delivers high quality IUI treatment service, which means we are well placed to deliver your care.

When you contact us, we will make sure that you are booked for your initial consultation within two weeks of your enquiry, where will we take some preliminary information from you and begin to organise relevant scans and blood tests.

What will happen once I have had my initial consultation?

After your initial consultation we will organise any necessary scans and blood tests to ensure that we begin treatment at the optimum time for you to conceive. You will be offered an appointment with our trained counsellor to talk through the implications of having a baby with donor sperm before your treatment goes ahead. This is highly recommended by the HFEA and you will be encouraged to take this up.

What is an IUI procedure like?

Insemination will generally take place about six to eight weeks after you initial consultation, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle and whether any other health conditions you have at the time influence the timing. The procedure itself will only be mildly uncomfortable, like when you have a cervical screening in out-patients setting and you will be awake throughout the procedure. You will be able to go home the same day and carry on with life as normal. You are unlikely to have any side effects beyond perhaps minor cramping, similar to period pain, which you can treat with over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol.

You will be asked to take a pregnancy test 14 days after your insemination to check to see whether the treatment has been successful.

What happens if I have a positive pregnancy test?

If you have a positive pregnancy test then congratulations!  We will offer you a scan at around seven weeks into your pregnancy to make sure all is well. At that point you will move over to the care of the maternity team, which could be NHS or private, depending on your choice and eligibility.

What happens if I have a negative pregnancy test?

If you have a negative pregnancy test, we will have a discussion with you to review your treatment cycle and make recommendations about next treatment cycle. You could start with your next cycle straightaway unless there was any medical reason to delay it for a month.

What should I do if I have any other questions?

We are happy to answer any other questions you might have about the procedure. Please call us on 07890 399059   or email uclh.fitzroviasuite.wh@nhs.net