IVF with sperm donor
Welcome to our guide to IVF with donor sperm treatment: digestible, comprehensive and medically reviewed. Whether you’re brand new to fertility treatment or a pro already, this guide is for you to better understand the ins and outs of IVF treatment.
Dr. Salim
Reviewed by Dr. Rehan Salim
Medical Director at Lister Fertility
Consultant gynaecologist and expert in reproductive medicine
A few quick facts
You can purchase sperm for fertility treatment at a sperm bank. It’s similar to a lab and connects donors with people who are seeking sperm for fertility care.
While there’s no legal limit to the number of times a person can donate sperm, many banks will limit the number of pregnancies a donor can contribute to.
If you plan on having multiple children, you can likely use the same donor for all of them.1
hands of a woman, a woman taking a pill - collage stylea woman taking a bill and a couple holding hands

What is IVF with donor sperm?

IVF with donor sperm is very similar to Standard IVF, with one key difference — the sperm comes from someone other than the male partner. The egg can come from a female partner or a donor.

What is the process of IVF with donor sperm?

In early appointments, expect to go through blood tests and scans, select a donor, and order sperm from a reputable supplier.2 It can take several weeks to process paperwork and for the order to arrive. 

After ordering sperm, it’s time to source eggs from a donor or use your own. If you’re using your own, you’ll go through the egg collection process over the course of about a month. 

In a lab, an embryologist will fertilise eggs with the donor sperm and monitor those embryos for several days as they grow. Good quality, healthy embryos can be transferred to a woman’s womb, and any extras can be frozen and stored to use later. 

After an embryo is transferred, patients wait a few weeks before taking a pregnancy test. If it’s positive, they can carry the pregnancy like any other. If it’s negative, they can transfer any remaining embryos, or start the process over again.3

What are the success rates for IVF with donor sperm?

IVF with donor sperm can improve changes for healthy pregnancies in cases of male factor infertility, because the sperm has been checked by clinic staff. Donor sperm and healthy non-donor sperm have similar chances of success.4 Women under 35 typically have a 14% live birth rate, and success rates naturally decrease with age.

What is the cost of IVF with donor sperm?

Here are average costs from across all of the UK:

IVF Treatment process

Base cost of IVF:  
£4,000

IVF with sperm donor

Donor sperm:

£1,000

a doctor holding a test tube

Additional procedures:

£850

Two needles and a doctor's hands

Medication:

£1,700

IVF Treatment process - needles, test tubes and doctor's hands

Total average cost:
£7,750

Generally, IVF with donor sperm costs around £7,550. Donor sperm typically costs an additional £1,000 on top of an IVF cycle, which covers the sperm and admin fees. 

Clinics’ listed prices can leave out essential procedures and medications, such as embryo freezing and storage for additional embryos created, sedation during egg collection and medication.  All these extra costs can be up to £3,000 on top of your treatment costs.

a man smiling at its baby

The bottom line

IVF with donor sperm is a great choice for anyone that needs healthy sperm to fertilise eggs for IVF treatment. Donor sperm has an additional cost, but it means being able to select the donor that best suits you. You can select a donor from a bank or a friend or family member, and after an egg and donor sperm are fertilised in a lab, you, a partner, or a surrogate can carry a healthy embryo to term. 

Common questions about IVF with donor sperm

Your fertility doctor will be able to answer your specific questions about your unique treatment plan, but there are a handful of questions that nearly every patient asks:

How can I find donor sperm?
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Sperm banks are widely available in the UK, or you can import sperm from abroad if the bank’s procedures are in accordance with HFEA.5 You can always ask your clinic if the sperm bank is compliant. As another option, consider sourcing sperm from a friend or family member, which is referred to as “known donation”. If you’re using a known donor, expect to have the sperm tested first to ensure it’s high quality and isn’t impacted by any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

What are the pros and cons of IVF with donor sperm?
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Pros: Using donor sperm means same sex female couples and single women can become parents on their own terms. It can also be a great option for men who have inheritable conditions that they don’t want to pass along to their children. 

Cons: Sperm donors cannot be anonymous. At-home donor insemination, which does still occasionally happen in the UK, is risky and can result in complications.6 Be sure to go through the sperm donor selection process through a reputable clinic — this is not a DIY operation.

Is donor sperm anonymous?
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No, donors in the UK must be identifiable and cannot donate anonymously. When a child turns 16, they can ask the HFEA for non-identifiable information about their donor, like medical history and year of birth. After the child turns 18, they can ask for their donor’s name and address.7

People who receive donor sperm can also find out how many other children have been born from a given donor’s sperm.

Am I eligible for IVF with donor sperm?

Your fertility doctor will be able to best advise you. In general, IVF with donor sperm benefits people who can’t use their own sperm for conception, have male factor fertility issues, or are same sex female couples or single women.

Interested in spreading out treatment payments over a longer period of time and protecting your treatment? You might be eligible for a Gaia Plan to finance your IVF with donor sperm treatment.

Is IVF with donor sperm suitable for me?

IVF with donor sperm is a suitable option for anyone with male factor fertility issues, or even to avoid passing on known genetic disorders or medical conditions. Single women who want to become parents may need donor sperm. IVF with donor sperm is also suitable for LGBTQ+ couples who may not be providing sperm, such as same sex female couples.

Read our guides for other treatments that could be suitable for you:

Still have questions about IVF with donor sperm?

If you have any other questions about IVF we haven’t answered, DM us on Instagram or join our community group.

“Try to find something for just you or you and your partner to do whilst in treatment. It’s so easy for it to be all consuming but it makes it a lot easier if you have other things to occupy your mind.”

two women standing hand in hand with each other

Katie and Georgia

Age: 34 and 27
Diagnosis: None
Treatment: IVF with donor sperm
Treatment history: 3 IUI treatments

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