Fertility treatment through Artificial insemination with husband's (AIH) or donor sperm (DI) involves injecting the semen into the cervical canal (neck of the womb) at the time of optimum cervical mucus, which occurs immediately prior to ovulation.
Donor Insemination (DI) is not a new technique. The earliest reports of this type of fertility treatment date back to the late 19th century when doctors performed the procedure in the greatest of secrecy! The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990 made it a legal requirement for all DI treatments to be documented at a central office.
Donor insemination can help those who are fertile, under the age of 46 years, in good health and with no medical contraindications for pregnancy. Your FSH levels and body weight also need to be within normal range. The patient groups who seek donor insemination include:
Heterosexual couples where the male partner is infertile or has other problems with his semen
Heterosexual couples where the male partner is a carrier of hereditary disease that may be passed on to a child
Women in lesbian relationships
The HFEA has determined that implication counselling is compulsory for patients undergoing treatment involving donated gametes. Counselling gives patients a chance to explore the many complex issues involved in using donor sperm. Counselling can be broadly categorised as follows:
Implication counselling aims to enable you to understand the implications of the proposed course of action for you, your family and for any children born as a result of treatment.
Support counselling aims to give emotional support during times of particular stress.
Therapeutic counselling aims to help people cope with the consequences of infertility and treatment and to resolve the associated problems. It includes helping people to adjust their expectations and to accept their situations.
The Welfare of the Child
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 states that before carrying out fertility treatment a clinic must “take account of the welfare of any child who may be born as a result of that treatment, (including the need of that child for a father), and of any child who may be affected by the birth”.
This means that before starting fertility treatment the clinic will ask you a number of personal questions, including your age, proof of identity and the medical histories of you and your immediate family. In situations where the child will have no legal father, the clinic will pay particular attention to the prospective mother’s ability to meet the child’s needs throughout childhood. If you refuse permission, this will be taken into account by the clinic in considering whether or not to offer treatment.
Telling your child
You will be encouraged to consider telling your child about his or her origin as a result of donor insemination. He or she will have the legal right at the age of 18, upon application to the HFEA and after the opportunity for the appropriate counselling to find out whether he or she has a genetic parent different from his or her legal parents.
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