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Saturday, March 29, 2008


What is donor insemination?

Donor insemination is where semen from a donor is artificially inseminated into a woman who wishes to conceive (ie. have a baby) but does not have a fertile male partner.

Artificial insemination is when sperm is placed into the uterus or cervix of a female by using artificial means.

Artificial insemination

In humans artificial insemination is usually part of an infertility treatment; either the woman's partner's sperm (artificial insemination by husband, AIH) or donor sperm (artificial insemination by donor) can be used.

The woman's menstrual cycle is closely observed, using ovulation kits, ultrasounds or blood tests. When an ovum is released, semen from a donor is inserted into her body. Just as with in vitro fertilization, the male donor is recommended not to ejaculate for a few days before the procedure. This is to ensure a higher sperm count. After the donation the sperm must immediately be “washed” in a laboratory. The process of “washing” the sperm increases the chances of fertilization and removes any chemicals in the semen that may cause discomfort for the woman. A chemical is added to the sperm that will separate the most active sperm in the sample. If the procedure is successful, she conceives and bears to term a baby as normal, making her both the genetic and gestational mother.

Of course, there are various gradations of treatment, and more technical procedures are sometimes needed. For example, semen can be injected directly into a woman's uterus to improve the chance of conception in a process called intrauterine insemination.

Artificial insemination has become a significant issue in recent years, particularly in debates revolving around surrogate parenting. Legal issues have arisen in cases where the gestational (and possibly genetic) mother decides to keep the child. Likewise, there have been debates over the rights of sperm donors.

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