PrivateBlogUsing a sperm donor to get pregnant: 9 things you should know
Donor sperm

Using a sperm donor to get pregnant: 9 things you should know

Pregnant woman showing her donor-conceived child

Becoming a parent is a dream for many people. At Cryos, we want to help as many people achieve their dream of having a child. There are many reasons why people need help conceiving, like heterosexual couples struggling with infertility, lesbian couples, or single women looking to become mothers. Read on to learn the 9 things you should know about using a sperm donor to get pregnant in the UK.

1. Finding a sperm donor

The process of finding a sperm donor can be tricky and complex, with a lot of different options to choose from. As a result, we want to provide a summary of the options available to you:

  • Using a free sperm donor: Fertility treatment with donor sperm can be expensive, and many seek to lower the cost by using a free sperm donor they found on the internet. However, this is not the right place to try and lower costs. We recommend you use a donor from a licensed sperm bank, as they are screened thoroughly and rescind all parental rights.
  • Using a friend as a donor: It is possible to use a friend as a sperm donor in the UK. It is referred to as a "known donor" and we recommend you still use a sperm bank to ensure a safe process with all legal agreements in place. However, it is essential to consider the legal, medical, and emotional implications of using a known donor. It is advisable to consult a fertility clinic, solicitor, or counsellor to ensure all aspects are properly addressed and both parties are fully informed about the process and potential outcomes.
  • Using a donor from a sperm bank: The safest option for you to choose, is to purchase donor sperm from a licensed sperm bank, like Cryos. At Cryos, we have more than 1.000 sperm donors to choose from. Our donors are screened according to the EU-Tissue Directive to minimize the risk of transferring diseases to the woman or child.

2. The importance of sperm donor screening

Thorough sperm donor screening is essential as we are responsible for minimising any risk of transferring diseases to the mother or child. At Cryos, we want to help people fulfil their dream of a child, but we must do it in a way, where we ensure the health and well-being of future donor-conceived children.

The sperm donors are screened for infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV, and syphilis. Besides the infectious diseases, we also perform a genetic carrier test to check for recessive diseases such as Cystic fibrosis, Spinal muscular atrophy, and Tay Sachs, and the donor’s family health is mapped. Furthermore, the sperm donor’s mental health is evaluated.

Single Mother by Choice having an ultrasound done

3. Choosing the right sperm donor

Once you have found the right sperm bank, the exciting search for a sperm donor can begin. The process of finding a sperm donor in the UK is not that different compared to other countries. The main difference is in terms of legislation since only ID Release Donors are allowed in the UK. In our free Sperm Donor Search, you can see the donors available and filter them based on your preferences.

There are two different types of Sperm Donor Profiles: Basic and Extended. Both profiles contain information about the donor’s physical appearance. Extended Profiles even contain childhood pictures of the donor and in some cases, it is possible to purchase access to see pictures of the sperm donors as adults.

4. Fertility clinic or the NHS

There are many things to consider when choosing between a private fertility clinic or the NHS. Here below, you can read some of the things you should consider before choosing between a private fertility clinic or the NHS:

  • Cost of fertility treatment: Many people choose fertility treatment on the NHS because of the costs associated with treatment in private fertility clinics. Fertility treatments within the NHS are often more affordable, as they are either free or offered at a lower cost than private clinics.
  • Waiting time: Fertility treatment in the NHS often involves longer waiting times due to higher demand and limited resources, which can be emotionally draining and harm your fertility journey.
  • Treatment options: The NHS may have stricter eligibility criteria and limited availability for certain fertility treatments, which could restrict your options. Private clinics may offer a wider range of fertility treatment options, including those not covered by the NHS.
  • Trust your instincts: You cannot know how many rounds of fertility treatment you need before your dream of a child comes true. As a result, we recommend you follow your instinct and focus on creating the best possible fertility journey.

5. Treatment options using a sperm donor

Two of the most popular treatment methods in the UK are IUI and IVF. Read the main difference between IUI and IVF below and what to do if fertility treatment with IVF fails:

  • Intrauterine insemination: In IUI treatment, fertility doctors use a small plastic needle to insert the donor sperm into the uterus at the time of ovulation. The treatment is nearly pain-free and completed in approximately 20 minutes. 
  • In vitro fertilization: IVF treatment, on the other hand, is more complicated since the woman’s eggs must be retrieved for fertilization. The egg is fertilized in a petri dish, where it hopefully develops into an embryo. If the development is successful, the embryo is transferred to the uterus.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection: The most complicated fertility treatment available is ICSI treatment, where an embryologist uses a small needle to insert a single sperm cell into the egg. ICSI is recommended if the sperm used has a low sperm count or quality. If no pregnancy has been obtained through IVF, ICSI would often be recommended as the next step.

The difference in method makes the cost of IVF treatment significantly higher than the cost of IUI treatment. Therefore, it is normal for single women and lesbian couples to start their fertility treatment with IUI, as it is cheaper and less invasive. You may be recommended to start with IVF treatment if you have been diagnosed with diseases that can affect your fertility like endometriosis or PCOS. If you are interested in learning more about how lesbians have a baby, then follow the link to our blog post.

6. The cost of using a sperm donor

It is impossible to put a price tag on parenthood, but it is important to consider the financial aspect of fertility treatment with donor sperm before the process begins. You never know how much donor sperm you should order and fertility treatment is often a costly affair and may require careful financial planning. Below we mention some of the aspects you can consider along the process to limit the cost of fertility treatment with donor sperm:

  • The cost of fertility treatments: When choosing a fertility clinic, you could focus on the cost of each fertility treatment or the availability of package deals. Some clinics also collaborate with a sperm bank, thus offering you a discount on their sperm donors.
  • Choosing a donor: Another way to focus on minimizing the cost of fertility treatment with donor sperm is in your choice of Donor Profile. Because the Extended Profile contains more information about the donor, the cost is higher. Therefore, if you want to limit the cost of purchasing donor sperm, you should choose a donor with a Basic Profile.
  • Financial compensation: When having fertility treatment in the UK, it is possible to receive financial compensation. You are not guaranteed to receive compensation, as it is decided locally by Integrated Care Boards (ICBs). If you want to learn more about financial compensation, follow the link to HFEA’s page on Costs and funding.

If you want to read more about the prices of donor sperm at Cryos, you can follow the link to our prices and payment page.

7. Know your legal rights

If you order donor sperm through a licensed sperm bank, there is no need to worry about your legal rights and responsibilities towards the child. During the donor process, all sperm donors sign a legal agreement waiving their parental rights to any that may be born as a result of your donations.

When looking for a donor, it is important to understand that fertility treatment with donor sperm is highly regulated in the UK, and there are strict rules in place to protect both the donor and the recipient. This means that it is only possible to use sperm from an ID Release sperm donor (non-anonymous). It narrows your choice of donor, but do not worry, there are plenty of donors available, both Basic and Extended. If you want a donor with a Non-ID Release Profile, you need to change your treatment country (fertility tourism).

If you want to read more about the legal aspects of fertility treatment with donor sperm in the UK, follow the link to HFEA’s page on rules regarding donor information.

Happy donor-conceived child with her head on her mothers belly

8. Success rates when using a sperm donor

The success rate of using donor sperm to get pregnant in the UK depends on various factors such as the woman's age, fertility, and the treatment used for insemination. In general, success rates for intrauterine insemination (IUI) with donor sperm are 18% per cycle. In vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor sperm typically has higher success rates, ranging from 19% to 32% per cycle.

9. Many people are getting pregnant using donor sperm

Over the years, Cryos has helped bring more than 73.000 children into the world and helped people just like you become parents using an egg or sperm donor. We have also stayed in contact with some of the people we have helped, and if you want to read their stories, then follow the links below:

Cryos is here to help

At Cryos, we want to help fulfil your dreams of parenthood and if you have any questions related to fertility treatment with donor sperm or the process of choosing a sperm donor, then contact our Customer Care. They will happily answer any questions you may have.

Frequently asked questions about getting pregnant using a sperm donor in the UK

Are there any risks when using donor sperm?

There are certain risks associated with sperm donation. One of the most important things you can do to minimize the risks of sperm donation is to use a sperm donor from a licensed sperm bank. Donors from licensed sperm banks are thoroughly screened, thus decreasing the risk of transferring diseases from the donor to the woman or child. Follow the link to read more about the risks of using donor sperm.

What is the best way to get pregnant using a sperm donor?

The best way to get pregnant with a sperm donor is to find a donor at a licensed sperm bank. All donors at the sperm bank have been screened thoroughly to ensure they meet the sperm donor requirements. All sperm donors at Cryos receive compensation for their time and effort.

Can you get pregnant using donor sperm at home?

No. Due to Danish legislation,  Cryos International Denmark, being a Danish sperm bank, cannot ship donor sperm to private addresses for home insemination. Distribution of  donor sperm is only allowed to approved tissue centres, fertility clinics, hospital departments, and authorized healthcare professionals.