Getting Pregnant through Sperm Donation

How to Get Pregnant with a Sperm Donor

If you are reading this then its very likely that you have just begun your journey trying to get pregnant with a sperm donor or you have been on a long roller coaster ride trying for a baby without success. This section can help you with lot's of information about how to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

There are several methods using sperm donation to get pregnant:

For some lucky people becoming pregnant happens fairly quickly, sometimes even first time. However for a lot of people getting pregnant is not always easy.

5 Simple Ways to Help you Become Pregnant Using Donor Sperm:

  1. Ask your donor to produce up-to-date health tests to ensure he is disease free.
  2. Ensure your donor has had his sperm tested for volume and motility
  3. Ask your doctor for a fertiltiy check to ensure you can conceive
  4. Closely monitor your ovulation to pin point the correct day for insemination
  5. Follow our step-by-step guide for home insemination

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Home Insemination

What is Home Insemination?

For those of our members who choose not to access a licensed fertility clinic a method known as home insemination can be carried out.  Home insemination is the method of inseminating sperm at home using a sterile syringe and specimen cup.

This successful method often suites people entering into a co-parenting or known donor arrangment for a number of reasons and is increasingly used by single women and lesbian couples to conceive using donor sperm. For information on how to perform home insemination visit our guide page.

Many women feel that insemination at home has advantages over undertaking insemination within a clinic environment as there is very little cost involved, the environment is much more relaxed, the sperm is fresh, your partner can be more involved and the success rates are higher.

Home Insemination Guide

What equipment do I need for home insemination?



When should I perform home insemination?

Use an ovulation prediction kit and/or a BBT chart to determine your 2 most fertiledays. Inseminate during these fertile days i.e the two days before your LH surge and two days after if you can arrange this with your donor. If its not possible to inseminate over 4 days then stick to the 48 hours before your LH surge as indicated with a positive ovulation predictor test.

Follow these instructions for home insemination:

1. Your sperm donor will firstly need to ejaculate into the specimen cup. Your donor should replace the lid on the cup and pass it to you as soon as possible after ejaculation. Your donors’ job is now complete!

2. Get yourself into a comfortable position with your hips raised. If using a vaginal speculum a small amount of lubrication (sperm friendly such as PreSeed) may be required to effectively insert the speculum, but only use a small amount. The woman can very gently insert the speculum into the vagina to locate the cervix or why not ask your partner to help.

3. Insert the speculum at a 45 degree angle pointing slightly downward. Open the"bills" of the speculum 2 or 3 cm using the thumb lever. Position the bills so that the cervix "falls" in between. Secure the speculum by clicking the ratchet mechanism (plastic speculum). Make sure that you lock the speculum in place if it is a lockable speculum. Do not move the speculum while it is locked open as it may cause injury.

4. Wait for the sperm to liquefy, this would normally take 10-20 minutes, draw back the syringe once with nothing but air and then push the air out, then slowly suck up the sperm into the syringe (no needle required). The sperm can remain active for a 1-2 hour period as long as it is maintained at just below body temperature however it is best to inseminate as soon as the sperm liquefies.

5. Squeeze the contents of the sperm as far into the vagina as possible and near to the cervix – do not aim at the cervix as this could cause injury to the cervix and the woman could go into cervical shock. Leave the syringe in placefor a few seconds and then slowly withdraw it.

6. If you are using a speculum once the sperm has been inseminated slowly withdraw the speculum slightly to clear the cervix. Loosen the speculum and allow the"bills" to fall together. Continue to withdraw while rotating the speculum to 45 degrees, dispose appropriately as they are single use speculums. Dispose of the used syringe and specimen appropriately also as they are also for single use only.

7. Lie down on your back with your hips propped up by a pillow for around 20-30 minutes. This should be ample time to allow the sperm to travel.

Other methods are available such as using a cervical cup however studies suggest that there is little difference in the conception rates and we suggest any method other than that above should be carried out by a medical professional.


We would recommend you seek advice from your GP if you feel you need further clarification around Home Insemination Procedures. We strongly recommend you consider all health and legal risks of carrying out insemination methods outside of a licensed fertility clinic.

Please refer to our FAQ's section for more information. will not be held accountable for any future actions or problems that arise as a result of carrying out such procedures)

Health Screening

Here is a general list of pre-insemination screening that you should insist your donor produces before any insemination takes place.

- ABO-Rh blood typing

- Chlamydia by PCR

- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)Antibody

- Gonorrhea

- Hepatitis B surface Antigen

- Hepatitis B core Antibody

- Hepatitis C Viral Antibody

- HIV Antibody (AIDS test)

- HTLV-1 Antibody

- RPR (syphilis)

- Semen analysis (count, motility, morphology)

Particularly if you are using an African American or Jewish donor you may wish to ask your donor to be screened for some of the following:


- Canavan disease carrier screening *

- Chemistry panel

- Complete blood count(CBC)

- Cystic fibrosis carrier screening

- Fanconi anemia carrier screening*

- Gaucher disease carrier screening*

- Niemann-Pick diseasecarrier screening*

- Sickle cell diseasecarrier testing***

- Tay-sachs disease carrier testing**

- Urinalysis

** For donors with Jewishor French Canadian ancestry.

***For donors with African American / African ancestry.


Where can a sperm donor go to be tested?

Visit your GP and ask for sexual health and fertility tests. You can either explain that you are looking to become a sperm donor or you are looking to begin trying for a baby with your partner and want to be screened first.


For most women ovulation happens 10-16 days before the start of your next period. To ensure that insemination is undertaken at the correct time it is vital isuse an ovulation prediction test, to identify the correct day. We advise you to use an ovulation test from day 10 of your period (day one being the first day that you bleed when your period starts) then daily until you identity the correct day.

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is when one or more eggs are released from the woman’s ovaries. This is the most fertile time of the menstrual period. Each month up to 20 eggs can mature inside the ovaries. The ripest egg is released into the fallopian tube.

What does ovulation have to do with me getting pregnant?

A woman’s egg survives no more than 24 hours after ovulation and to become pregnant an egg and a sperm have to meet in the fallopian tube before the egg dies.

Sperm can however survive for much longer inside the vagina and will often stay around for several days waiting for the egg to be released. This means that insemination can take place several days before ovulation happens or indeed on the day of ovulation. Women have a 'fertile window' of about four days which can enable sperm to live healthily while it waits to meet a freshly ovulated egg. This fertile window does significantly reduce as a woman gets older.

Is there a way that I can tell when I am most fertile?

Ovulation usually takes place 10-16 days before the start of your next period. An average menstrual cycle of 28 days means that ovulation takes place sometime around day13-15. The length of a normal menstrual cycle, however varies between 23 days and 35 days so ovulation could occur earlier or later in your cycle.

The most accurate way to determine your most fertile time is to use an ovulation prediction test. There is also a change in cervical mucus, lower abdominal pain, increased libido and increase in pheromones duration your fertile window. In a healthy woman the cervical mucus during ovulation should be the consistency of an egg white. This mucus will help transport the swimming sperm to the awaiting egg to be fertilized.

What should I know about ovulation tests?

Ovulation tests allow you to pinpoint your ‘fertile window’ of your menstrual cycle.

From day 10 of your period the end of the ovulation test strip is dipped into the first urine of the morning. You should repeat this process each day until you achieve a positive result on your ovulation strip. Once your day of ovulation has been determined then this information will help predict the best times for inseminations to start the following month.

Ideally insemination should commence 2-3 days before ovulation is due, and then be performed on the day of ovulation (i.e. the day you get a positive result from your ovulation strip) and up to 24 hours after ovulation.

If you have a 28 day cycle i.e. day one is the first day you bleed on your period; you will ovulate on day 14. Inseminations should then take place from day 11 today 14.

Ovulation Cycle Chart

Usual cycle length





















Days to begin testing





















Ovulation Test Procedure

OvulationTest Procedure (using ‘One-Step’ Tests):

1. Determine the day to begin testing.

2. Collect urine sample in a clean and dry container.

3. To begin testing, open the sealed pouch and remove the strip. Do not remove the strip until you are ready to begin testing.

4. With the arrows pointing downwards towards the urine, place the test strip vertically (straight) into the urine sample, for at least l0 seconds. DO NOT allow the urine to go above the MAX (maximum) level line. 

5. Remove the strip from the urine and place on a clean, dry surface. For best results you should read the results at 5 minutes. 6. Wait for coloured bands to appear. Depending on the concentration of LH in the urine specimen, positive results may be observed in as short as 40 seconds.However, to confirm negative results, the complete reaction time of 30 minutesis required.


What is an LH Surge?

Luteinising Hormone (LH) is a hormone which circulates in the woman’s body continuously however one to two days before ovulation there is a surge in the level of LH. You can detect this surge in your LH levels by using an ovulation predictor test. A positive result will detect the LH surge and therefore let you know when to time insemination.

What is FSH?

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is an important hormone in the reproductive system. In men FSH is responsible for the production of sperm and in women it causes the ovaries to produce eggs. People with a deficiency in FSH can often experience infertility.


Why should I chart my basal body temperature?

Just after you ovulate your BBT will rise and so charting your BBT can help you find out if and when you are ovulating which can help you time your insemination.

I have an irregular cycle –shoud I chart my BBT?

Charting your BBT is ideal if your cycle is regular as you can begin to predict when you ovulate and therefore time insemination inthe days just before your temperature rise. If your cycle is irregular you should not rely on charting your BBT alone as it may be very difficult to predict your ovulation from month to month and you could miss your peak insemination days.

What is the average BBT?

Prior to ovulation the average range of BBT is between 97.0-97.7 and after ovulation it rises to 97.7- 99.0.

Using an ovulation kit and charting BBT.

It is useful to chart both your BBT and use an ovulation prediction test. Your ovulation kit will identify your LH surge which happens prior to ovulation and your BBT will rise during ovulation. You should therefore inseminate 24-48 hours after your LH surge is detected and 24-48 hours before your BBT increase.

My BBT has stayed high after ovulation

If your BBT stay’s at the raised level for over 18 days after ovulation there is a strong chance you are pregnant so take a pregnancy test

What is Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI)?

IUI is an assisted reproductive technique which places sperm directly into the uterus with the help of a very thin catheter. This procedure ensures that sperm are available to access a woman’s egg during ovulation. IUI was formerly known as artificial insemination although many people get confused with artificial insemination and home insemination.

Home insemination involves using a syringe to place sperm into the vagina whereas article insemination must be carried out by a trained medical professional due to the procedures involved. Visit our home insemination section for more information on this topic.

Within fertility clinics artificial insemination can occur in four different forms: intravaginal insemination, intracervical insemination, intratubal inseminations for the uterus and fallopian tubes. Intra uterine insemination is now considered a separate technique from artificial insemination.

IUI is the most commonly used method and intra tubal insemination is rarely used due to the invasive procedure involved.

What does the IUI procedure involve?

IUI is performed in a fertility clinic by threading a very thin catheter through the cervix using a speculum to open the cervix. Washed sperm is then injected directly into the uterus. The whole process usually takes no than 10 minutes and levels of discomfort are relatively low.

It is advised for you to have the procedure with a relatively full bladder so empty your bladder about an hour before your procedure is due and then drink water steadily to fill your bladder. You will be asked to wear a hospital hat and gown and your partnerwill be able to accompany you during the procedure – again he or she will have to wear an attractive hospital hat and gown. 

When should I have IUI?

As part of the IUI procedure you will have an internal ultrasound scanon day 2 or 3 of your period and then a scan on day 10. The purpose of these scans is for your medical team to check the development of your follicles and measure the follicles and their location. The procedure is not painful and can last from 5-10 minutes. If you are taking fertility drugs such as Clomid which boost the number of follicles produced you may be asked to go in for a day 13 or 14 scan to check you haven’t over-produced eggs.

Depending on the length of your cycle and how the medial staff feel your follicles are developing you will be asked to perform an ovulation test by placing an ovulation test stick into a urine sample. You will be asked to do this each day with the first urine sample of the day until you get a positive result. The ovulation stick will indicate when you get your LH (Luteinizing Hormone) surge. This is a surge in hormone that happens prior to ovulation. As soon as you get the positive surge you will be asked to phone up the clinic to book in for your IUI usually the next day or same day.

Should I get up straight away after IUI?

There is no evidence to suggest getting up straight away after the procedure has any more positive effect to lying still for 20 minutes. This will be a personal choice for you. As your bladder will be full for the procedure you may be desperate to pass water. This is fine to do straight after your IUI.

What should I do after the IUI?

From the moment you have your IUI you should treat it that you are pregnant avoiding foods such as pate and soft cheese. Apart from that you can carry on as normal.

Is IUI painful?

IUI feels very similar to having a cervical smear- the only element where there is a small amount of discomfort is during the opening of the speculum. You may experience some cramping when the catheter is inserted through the cervix. The medical staff will be very good at ensuring you are comfortable and if your partner is with you he or she can distract you. The whole process can last anything from 5 minutes upwards so you don’t have too long to experience any discomfort.

How and when is the sperm collected for IUI?

If you are heterosexual couple your clinic will give you a time on the day of your procedure to collect a sperm sample in order for it to be washed and prepared for the insemination

If you are a single woman or lesbian couple you will have purchased donor sperm from a sperm bank or used a known donor’s sperm which will also have to have been frozen and tested over a six month period.

The donor sperm will then be thawed and prepared for insemination on the day of your procedure. The medical team carrying out your IUI will liaise with the andrologists who prepare the sperm sample.

What are the success rates of IUI?

Check with your individual clinic for their up-to-date success rates as success rates can be very low for this procedure. Success rate are commonly between 5-10% however they can rise to 26%. Success depends on whether you have produced one follicle or several with the help of a fertility drug and also an important factor is sperm count so if you are purchasing donor sperm it is well worth paying extra for samples with higher sperm volume.

How many IUI's should I have before trying IVF?

IUI is an expensive procedure in the UK at over £700 each time (that is without buying your sperm if you are purchasing it from a sperm bank and paying for shipment) however IVF can cost double this amount so it may be worth trying IUI if you do not have any recognized fertility issues and the sperm you are using is of good quality. Most people will try 3-4 cycles using fertility drug such as Clomid and if this fails you may want to consider IVF.

Can I do IUI at home?

You should never do IUI at home because the sperm needs to be washed (separated from the semen) to prevent infection as itis being placed directly into the uterus. Vaginal insemination is safe to do at home using a sterile syringe with the sperm sample in a sterile cup

What does 'washed sperm' mean?

Washing or spinning the sperm is a laboratory technique for separating sperm from semen and separating non-motile sperm from motile sperm.

The ejaculate is mixed with a washing medium followed by centrifugation (spun at high speed). The sperm rich fraction left at the end of this spinning process is mixed with more washing medium and the process repeated 2-3 times until only the highest quality sperm remain. This is then placed into a test tube ready for insemination.

What is DIUI?

This is the common term for donor intra uterine insemination i.e. if you are using donor sperm (sperm bought from a sperm bank or deposited from a known donor).

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

What is IVF?

IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilisation and it is a technique that helps couples have a baby if they suffer from fertility issues. The process involves surgically removing an egg from the woman’s ovaries and fertilising it with a sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg forms and embryo which is then placed back into the woman’s womb to grow and develop.

How is IVF treatment performed?

You will be given fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries which will help to develop several mature eggs. During a normal cycle you may only produce one egg so taking these fertility drugs will you increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

These drugs will essentially switch off your menstrual cycle in order for hormone injections to then stimulate ovulation. These hormone drugs can give some strong side effects so you will be closely monitored by the medical staff who are looking after your case. Your doctor will be able to detect when your eggs are mature and at this point they will be ready to be retrieved. This process involves you being given a sedation anaesthetic which makes you drowsy but still conscious to enable the doctor to remove your eggs. Dont worry you will not be able to feel or remember the procedure.

If you are a married heterosexual couple during this procedure your husband will be asked to give a fresh sperm sample. If you are a single woman or lesbian couple you will use frozen sperm. In both of these cases the sperm will be washed to extract the best quality sperm to fertilise the eggs. The sperm is then combined with the eggs and cultured in an incubator. These samples will be checked over the next few days to see if the eggs have been fertilised resulting in an embryo. Hopefully several of your eggs will have been fertilised leaving you with more than one embryo for future use. The healthiest embryo can then be inserted into your uterus.

After your eggs have been extracted you will take progesterone hormone which helps to thicken the lining of your uterus. The healthy embryos will then be transferred into your uterus using a thin catheter threaded through your cervix. Legally up to three embryos will be allowed to be implanted to prevent the risk of multiple pregnancy. The number implanted will depend on your ageand fertility condition.

Women aged under 40 can have a maximum of two embryos transferred to the womb however women over 40 can have three embryos per cycle due to a smaller chance of conceiving with their own eggs. For women using donated eggs only two can be transferred. If the cycle is successful one or more of the embryos will implant in your uterus and continue to grow. You will be asked to do a pregnancy test two weeks after the embryos have been transferred.

Will I be able to have IVF?

In the UK the woman has to be between 23 and 39 years old at the time of treatment and have an identified fertility problem or have been trying unsuccessfully for a baby for at least three years.

In other countries around the world women are legally allowed to receive treatment into their 50's so research your clinics well before deciding where to go for your treatment.

Do I have to pay for IVF?

In the UK the Primary Care Trusts decide who is eligible for funded fertility treatments. For most heterosexuals if you have identified fertility issues you will be entitled to up to three IVF cycles funded by the NHS.

If you have an unidentified fertility issue and have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant after trying for at least three years, as a heterosexual you will be entitled to up to three funded cycles of IVF but as a lesbian you would not be entitled to any funded treatment!

Costs for IVF treatment vary greatly around the world. You are about to spend a lot of money on this treatment so do your homework.  Contact several clinics and ask them what their success rates are (age related) and what their fees are. It may be worth spending a little more money on a clinic that has much higher success rates.

What are the IVF success rates?

Success rates are often determined by the age of the woman at the time of treatment. As younger women tend to have healthier eggs their chances of success are increased.

Women under 35 have the highest chances of conceiving at around 29%, this reduces to 17% for 38-39 years old and 5% for women aged 43-44. You should check all of your local fertility clinic success rates and compare them thoroughly. Success rates are usually available on the fertility centres websites however you can request the most up-to-date.

It is really important to check IVF success rates because if the success rates are much higher at one clinic which is further away from where you live it may be worth the extra journey to go to the best clinic.

If you are a lesbian couple you should also ask if the clinic have dealt with same-sex couples before and what their success rates have been. Some clinics are not very good in dealing with lesbian couples and it’s important that you feel welcomed, relaxed and you are receiving the best care.

What is natural insemination?

When we refer to NI, in plain English we mean sexual intercourse. If you are in a heterosexual relationship then the process of making babies through NI will not be a problem for you however when we consider sperm donor and sperm donor recipient relationships NI does become an issue. Whether you are a heterosexual couple where the man is infertile and you are looking to use a donor or you are a single woman or a lesbian couple the question around whether you should choose NI should be considered very carefully.

It is very much a personal choice for you and if you have a trusting enough relationship with your donor and you both feel comfortable then it can be an option.

We monitor all members’ behavior on and try to ensure that all members act in a responsible and non offensive manner. You should never feel pressured into NI and if a member is suggesting something you do not feel comfortable with then please report them immediately. If you do decide that NI is the option for you then you should insist on up-to-date health screening tests and for a donor we would suggest you ask for fertility tests to ensure that your donor is actually fertile.

Methods such as home insemination and artificial insemination through a clinic do work so there are definitely options for you. The most important advice is don’t take chances with your health or with your safety and if you feel something just isn’t right with a donor and they are pressuring you for NI then report them straight away.

What are the best positions to help me become pregnant?

There is no evidence to suggest that certain sexual positions are any more beneficial to achieving pregnancy although choosing a position such as the missionary position will enable the penis to penetrate as far towards the cervix as possible should enhance the sperms chances of entering the cervix on its route towards the egg.

When should I perform natural insemination?

Use an ovulation prediction kit and/or a BBT chart to determine your 2 most fertile days. Have sex during these fertile days i.e the two days before your LH surge and two days after if you can arrange this with your donor. If its not possibleto have sex over 4 days then stick to the 48 hours before your LH surge asindicated with a positive ovulation predictor test.

What are the risks of natural insemination with a sperm donor?

You will be taking a huge risk if you do not follow this guidance:

  • Insist on health test results including STI’s and genetic conditions
  • Insist on fertility tests such as sperm count, motility and morphology.
  • ID Check – is your donor who he says he is?
  • Always tell a friend where you will be and who you are meeting
  • Don’t feel pressured into NI and report any members who are acting inappropriately.


Related Articles:

Health Screening




Artificial Insemination (AI)

Natural Insemination (NI)


Tips on Conceiving

Home Insemination