A Guide to IUI with Donor Sperm


For couples having difficulty achieving pregnancy, same-gender couples, or single women ready to build a family, the idea of a typical pregnancy can seem like an impossibility. However, there are effective methods available to make the dream of building a family a reality. Introducing donor sperm into the equation can provide new results and increase the likelihood of achieving pregnancy.

What Is IUI with Donor Sperm?

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a process that places sperm directly into a woman’s uterine cavity through the cervix with the use of a syringe and attached catheter. IUI with donor sperm occurs when you choose to purchase sperm from a donor bank to complete the process. Donor sperm is used for a variety of reasons that can help couples or single women achieve a healthy pregnancy.

Here are a few of the most common reasons prospective parents choose to purchase donor sperm.

  • Severe male infertility that prevents successful pregnancy
  • Same-gender couples
  • Single women wish to build a family
  • A hereditary disease that a prospective father doesn’t wish to pass to his children

Is Donor Sperm Safe?

Absolutely. Sperm donors are required to go through a variety of tests at the time of sperm donation and again six months later. Additionally, the FDA doesn’t allow the use of fresh donor sperm for artificial insemination.

At the time of sperm donation, sperm donors are tested for syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), HIV-1/2, and human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV)-I/II, and these tests must be repeated 6 months after sperm donation. All results must be negative before the sperm samples can be released for use. While the results of both rounds of testing are examined, the sample is frozen and quarantined until the results are conclusive.

In an effort to lower the likelihood of genetic disease, sperm banks also routinely test donors for carrier status of genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and others. If the birth or genetic defects in the offspring are known, sperm banks are required to notify all recipients who had purchased sperm from the affected donor.

Obtaining Donor Sperm for IUI

While you’ve probably heard of sperm banks, the idea of purchasing sperm is a foreign idea to most people. If you’re feeling confused about your options, you’re not alone. You can purchase sperm from any FDA approved sperm bank. You will have the opportunity to review information about sperm donors online. Some sperm banks may provide pictures, audio, or video clips of donors for an additional fee. Some of the most common information available includes:

  • Ethnicity
  • Personal and family medical history
  • Physical characteristics
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Education
  • Profession

Additional Considerations

When you’re prepared to order donor sperm, there are some factors you’ll need to consider.

  • Do you need washed sperm? Washed sperm is frozen twice and may yield fewer motile sperm after the second thaw. Washed sperm typically cost more. They are best suited for clinics that don’t have the means to prepare sperm for IUI. The costs to prepare washed and unwashed sperm for IUI are the same at IVFMD fertility clinics in Irving, Grapevine, and Arlington.
  • Are you immune to CMV? Cytomegalovirus can cause birth defects in the developing fetus. Therefore, the FDA requires both sperm donors and recipients to be tested for CMV. If you’re not immune to CMV, you should choose a CMV negative donor.
  • When should you order? Sperm can be ordered during the first 5 days of the treatment cycle or at the initial baseline sonogram. Waiting until the last minute to order can lead to higher shipping costs.
  • How many samples should you get? Sperm samples must be specially packaged, and shipping costs can add up. To save on these costs, it’s a good idea to order three samples at once and have the unused ones stored at the facility for a small fee.
  • Does the sample come with a guarantee? Believe it or not, a guarantee is possible. The chance of pregnancy with IUI using donor sperm is optimized when there are at least 3 million motile sperm after thawing. A refund or credit might be available in cases of poor sperm survivability (<1 million motile sperm) at some sperm banks. You might want to ask before ordering.

Can I Use a Sperm Donor I Know?

Yes, but it might take longer.

It’s common for women to consider men they already know for sperm donation. However, designated or “known” sperm donors must go through the same screening process as anonymous donors to comply with FDA regulations. Because of the 6 months quarantine requirement, many recipients prefer to use anonymous donor sperm in order to save time.

IUI Treatment: The Process

For best results, there is some preparation needed to increase the chances of pregnancy with IUI. Fertility testing, reserving your sperm in advance, and using ovulation induction medications can increase your chances of success.

You will prepare for the process with fertility testing which likely includes a review of your medical history, diagnostic imaging to check the tubes and ovaries, and an assessment of ovarian reserve. These tests can be performed within one cycle.

You can choose your sperm donor as soon as you’re ready. Once you have chosen a sperm donor, you can reserve the sperm samples and have them shipped to our clinics during the first 5 days of your treatment cycle.

It is possible to perform donor sperm IUI during a natural cycle with the assistance of an ovulation kit. Still, taking a more proactive route is more likely to result in a successful pregnancy. The use of ovulation induction medications will optimize your chances for success with every sperm sample. Below is an example of a medicated IUI cycle:

Pregnancy Rates of IUI with Donor Sperm

The big question for most women seeking IUI is the potential success rate of the process. Many studies have found that the average live birth rate from donor sperm IUI is about 15% per attempt, varying from 10% per cycle with one dominant follicle to 20% with 2-3 dominant follicles. However, it’s important to remember that many women attempt more than one cycle which significantly increases potential pregnancy rates. In fact, in uncomplicated cases, the pregnancy rate jumps to 50-60% with five IUI attempts.

Cost of IUI with Donor Sperm

There are a variety of factors that affect the cost of IUI with donor sperm, and the final price can vary widely. Among the fertility clinics in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, an IUI cycle using donor sperm can cost between a few hundred to several thousand dollars, not including the cost of a donor sperm sample which can cost $500-$800 plus shipping.

The least expensive IUI treatment involves a natural cycle with no sonograms or medication. Unfortunately, the costs can increase quickly with multiple sonograms and the use of medications. This is where your clinician’s experience and skill can help. Through efficient use of medications and monitoring, IUI success can be achieved without making the cost for an IUI cycle prohibitively expensive.

The cost of IUI cycles at IVFMD might be more affordable than you think.


IUI Cost vs. IVF Cost

When you’re adding up the costs of repeated IUI cycles, it’s common to consider the idea of seeking IVF instead. Under certain circumstances, IVF might be more cost-efficient. Factors to take into consideration include:

  • The cost of one IUI cycle at your chosen clinic: If one IUI cycle costs thousands of dollars, the treatment can quickly get expensive.
  • Your age: If you’re over 34, are looking for the fastest route to pregnancy, and can afford IVF, you should proceed directly to IVF.
  • Certain health conditions: If you have been diagnosed with tubal damage, pelvic adhesions, or severe endometriosis, you should consider IVF in order to have the best chance of success.

For many patients without these conditions, IUI can offer an affordable route to pregnancy with an overall pregnancy chance of 50% after 3-5 cycles, as long as the treatment cost per cycle is not very high. After 3 rounds of IUI without success, proceeding to IVF wouldn’t be too late.

If you’re struggling with fertility issues or other factors are standing in the way of achieving your pregnancy, it can be a heavy load to carry. Seeking medical assistance is the best way to learn about your options for a healthy pregnancy. For more information about IUI with donor sperm or other fertility treatments, get in touch with our friendly staff today. We’re happy to answer your questions.



More Answers


How many IUI cycles should I complete before proceeding to IVF?

After 5 rounds of IUI without success, you should consider IVF.

Is IUI painful?

IUI should be performed smoothly and gently and should not be painful.

Can I use a friend as my sperm donor?

FDA regulations do not allow the use of fresh donor sperm. In order for the man to be your sperm donor, he would have to undergo the same screening as an anonymous donor for communicable diseases and his sperm would have to be frozen and quarantined for at least 6 months, when he will undergo repeat testing. If the second screening is negative, the sperm can then be used; however, for many women, a 6 month waiting period might be too long.

What happen to the remaining sperm samples if I become pregnant?

If you have leftover sperm samples they can continue to be stored at our facility for an annual storage fee.

Are double inseminations more successful than single insemination?

Double insemination can be helpful if the first sample yields less than optimal sperm count for IUI. However, in most cases, single IUI gives the same result as double IUI (performed on consecutive days).

How long do the sperm remain viable inside my body after IUI?

Thawed frozen sperm can live for up to 24 hours after 24 hours after insertion. In contrast, fresh sperm can be viable inside the body for 3-4 days after IUI.

How much motile sperm are needed for IUI to be successful?

At least 3 million motile sperm are needed for best results with IUI.

When's the best time to have IUI?

In a natural cycle, IUI can be performed the day after the LH surge (positive ovulation test). If HCG is used to trigger ovulation, IUI can be performed between 24-48 hours after the injection.

What medications should I avoid before IUI?

Around the time of ovulation, you should avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs as these can inhibit ovulation. It’s also a good idea to avoid antihistamines after ovulation as they can impair implantation.

If I already ovulated, can I still proceed with IUI?

Yes, as long as there’s reasonable certainty that ovulation occurred within the last 24 hours. After ovulation, the egg is viable for only 24 hours.