Outcomes of pregnancies using donor sperm compared with those using partner sperm: systematic review and meta-analysis

Christopher Patrick Allen* (Corresponding Author), Nicola Marconi, David McLernon, Sohinee Bhattacharya, Abha Maheshwari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Registry data from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show an increase of 40% in IUI and 377% in IVF cases using donor sperm between 2006 and 2016.

The objective of this study was to establish whether pregnancies conceived using donor sperm are at higher risk of obstetric and perinatal complications than those conceived with partner sperm. As more treatments are being carried out using donor sperm, attention is being given to obstetric and perinatal outcomes, as events in utero and at delivery have implications for long-term health. There is a need to know if there is any difference in the outcomes of pregnancies between those conceived using donor versus partner sperm in order to adequately inform and counsel couples.

We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the outcomes of pregnancies conceived using donor sperm compared with partner sperm. Searches were performed in the OVID MEDLINE, OVID Embase, CENTRAL and CINAHL databases, including all studies published before 11 February 2019. The search strategy involved search terms for pregnancy, infant, donor sperm, heterologous artificial insemination, donor gametes, pregnancy outcomes and perinatal outcomes. Studies were included if they assessed pregnancies conceived by any method using, or infants born from, donor sperm compared with partner sperm and described early pregnancy, obstetric or perinatal outcomes. The Downs and Black tool was used for quality and bias assessment of studies.

Of 3391 studies identified from the search, 37 studies were included in the review and 36 were included in the meta-analysis. For pregnancies conceived with donor sperm, versus partner sperm, there was an increase in the relative risk (RR) (95% CI) of combined hypertensive disorders of pregnancy: 1.44 (1.17–1.78), pre-eclampsia: 1.49 (1.05–2.09) and small for gestational age (SGA): 1.42 (1.17–1.79) but a reduced risk of ectopic pregnancy: 0.69 (0.48–0.98). There was no difference in the overall RR (95% CI) of miscarriage: 0.94 (0.80–1.11), gestational diabetes: 1.49 (0.62–3.59), pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH): 1.24 (0.87–1.76), placental abruption: 0.65 (0.04–10.37), placenta praevia: 1.19 (0.64–2.21), preterm birth: 0.98 (0.88–1.08), low birth weight: 0.97 (0.82–1.15), high birthweight: 1.28 (0.94–1.73): large for gestational age (LGA): 1.01 (0.84–1.22), stillbirth: 1.23 (0.97–1.57), neonatal death: 0.79 (0.36–1.73) and congenital anomaly: 1.15 (0.86–1.53).

The majority of our findings are reassuring, except for the mild increased risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and SGA in pregnancies resulting from donor sperm. However, the evidence for this is limited and should be interpreted with caution because the evidence was based on observational studies which varied in their quality and risk of bias. Further high-quality population-based studies reporting obstetric outcomes in detail are required to confirm these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdmaa030
Pages (from-to)190-211
Number of pages22
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Issue number1
Early online date15 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2021


  • gamete donation
  • IVF
  • IUI
  • pregnancy
  • assisted reproduction
  • child follow-up
  • perinatal outcomes
  • obstetric outcomes


Dive into the research topics of 'Outcomes of pregnancies using donor sperm compared with those using partner sperm: systematic review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this