We caught up with mum-to-be Jane to chat IUI, sperm donors and the potential difficulties in being same-sex parents. IUI (intrauterine insemination) is commonly called artificial insemination.
First off, congratulations! You conceived using IUI, is that like IVF?
Thanks 🙂 No IUI is different to IVF. IUI involves a surgeon or doctor placing washed, prepared sperm into the uterus (womb) and near to the egg at time of ovulation. IVF involves the process by which eggs are removed from your ovaries and mixed with sperm. Fertilisation takes place in the laboratory, where the fertilised egg (embryo) is then surgically implanted into the women’s womb.
How do you wash sperm? OK, so I’m guessing you needed to select a sperm donor then? How did you choose one?
I have no idea how they washed the sperm. Everything is screened and tested for potential diseases, infections or genetic conditions.
The process of choosing a suitable sperm was tiresome and involved a lot of thinking. We chose the sperm via a professionally dedicated website of suitable matches. It’s based on personal preferences, that matched a particular element to do with my blood type, and which was UK compliant.
There was a lack of local donors. This was because of a recent change in UK law. Young people now have a right to make contact with the sperm donor at the age of 18 years. This appears to have restricted the number of donors in Wales and the UK. So we opted for a suitable donor from abroad.
That’s really interesting regards personal preferences. Do you get to see pictures of the donors? How much information is shared? Like do you know their jobs, qualifications, athletic ability, political views? And what makes sperm UK compliant?
Yes you do get to see the pictures, from when the sperm donor is a baby up to the present time. We opted to go for the full profile access, so that we could make an informed decision.
A lot of personal information about donors is shared:
- personal attributes
- body type
- employment status
- medical history
- genetic conditions
- physical and mental health issues
- martial status
- whether they have children
- whether they have had known pregnancies resulting from past IUI or IVF
- paternal and maternal medical conditions, along with sibling information.
Interestingly it also involves a brief description about the reasons for donating their sperm. Ours stated that he wanted to give everyone the opportunity to have a child.
A UK compliant donor, is when the man has agreed to comply with the law, which states that the young person is able to make contact with this person, when he/she turns 18.
Wow that’s a lot of details, I thought it’d be more like Tinder. OK so you’ve selected someone, what happens next? Is IUI a painful process?
Ha ha no slightly different to Tinder. Although very similar, it isn’t a dating site!
After selection, you start the fertility treatment. Every fertility centre will have slightly differing processes and the fertility treatment may vary. At our centre, they combined the procedure with fertility drugs. This increases your chances of conceiving.
Approximately 2-3 months prior to treatment, my partner diligently woke me up every morning at 7am, to inject Progesterone and Clomid into my belly. Then approximately 48 hours prior to treatment, she injected what they call a ‘Booster Shot’ into my belly. A booster shot is Human Chorionic Gonadotrapin (HCG). This stimulates the release of an egg during ovulation.
I responded so well to the fertility drugs, that it resulted in me creating too many well formed eggs. So I had to undergo a simple local anaesthetic procedure to reduce this number. This was painful, but it only lasted a few seconds. This was followed by the immediate procedure of inseminating the sperm into my womb.
Once inseminated, the specialists advised us to continue taking the Progesterone for a further approximately 2 months. Two weeks later, we were advised to take a pregnancy test. If it was positive we were to go back at 4 weeks for a Viability Scan.
One thing forgot to mention. We were offered counselling before the procedure, which we attended. We were able to learn about the legal side of the process and about parental responsibility.
Did you go to a private clinic or is IUI available on the NHS?
We were lucky enough to be able to receive the treatment by the NHS. Not all Local Authorities have this availability. It varies widely across Wales and the UK. My partner’s friends, who are based in England, and in a civil partnership have recently decided to go private. This was because their local NHS charged for the service.
I see, so the decision to offer IUI lies with the local heath board. OK, so you’re pregnant with your first child with your partner who is also a woman – have you faced any difficulties? From hospitals or antenatal classes or even family and friends?
No I haven’t received any hostility from the hospital staff or specialists. They were very professional, and encouraging.
I have found that during day-to-day conversations, that some have questioned our reasons for going ahead with the process anonymously, rather than through a known donor. Also a friend of a friend of my partner commented that a child would benefit more from having a father figure.
For us both, a child needs security, stability and a loving environment. Whether that is from a single parent, LGBT or heterosexual couple.
Of course. I think we’ll wrap it up there, but just before we do, what one thing do you know now that you wish you knew at the start?
Owww there are a few things….
My partner mentioned that it would have been beneficial to have known beforehand how very labour intensive it would be with the medication and injections.
I would have liked to have been made aware that there are few, if any, Welsh sperm donors available to people in Wales.
Lastly, a cheap pregnancy test is not as good as Clearblue. So always opt for Clearblue.
Thanks Jane! Best of luck with everything!
The HFEA (Human Fertility Embryology Authority) oversees fertility clinics in the UK. They provide impartial information to the public on fertility treatments. Check their site out and also have a look on NHS Direct Wales’ artificial insemination pages.
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