Going Abroad For Sperm Donation

Sperm donation in UK clinics is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in accordance with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. The rules around who can be a sperm donor in the UK are very strict to protect you as the recipient, the donor-conceived child and the donor. Sperm donors must:

  • be between the ages of 18 and 41
  • be willing to be screened for medical conditions
  • have no known serious medical disability or family history of hereditary disorders
  • know (or be able to find out) their immediate family medical history – children, siblings, parents and grandparents
  • agree to be registered with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) as a donor and be willing to be known to any child born following their donation once they reach the age of 18
  • not put themselves at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • not knowingly leave out any relevant information which could affect the health of any children born as a result of their donation
  • be offered implications counselling
  • NOT receive payment for donating other than compensation for expenses (up to £35 per clinic visit).

Additionally, sperm donors in the UK can only donate to up to 10 families. The reasons for such controls are to provide a safe donation environment for all the parties involved so that everyone’s physical and emotional health is protected, and also to offer a clear legal framework around parenthood. Going abroad for treatment with donor sperm If you’re considering going abroad for treatment with donor sperm then it’s important to be aware of the following factors and consider how they might impact on you and your donor-conceived child’s physical and emotional wellbeing:

  • lack of stringent regulation governing donation in the country of origin (often there is no regulation or it’s very different from the HFEA system)
  • donor’s screening tests, and personal and family medical history are often not investigated as thoroughly or at all
  • an absence of counselling for the donor may mean that they are less aware of the implications of their donation
  • an absence of implications counselling for you as recipients might mean that you’re affected by issues that may never have crossed your mind
  • there are no public databases so there’s no reliable way of finding out how many children are conceived from the same donor
  • limits on the number of families a donor can donate to may not exist meaning that your donor-conceived child could have more than 100 half siblings
  • many sperm donors donate anonymously which means your donor-conceived child will be unable to make connections with their donor or half siblings
  • an absence of robust recording systems in some countries means that even if sperm donors are willing to be identifiable, the information may not be available when you want it
  • depending on where your sperm donor is from your donor-conceived child will likely have very different features and genetic origins from you and your family.

What are your alternatives if your clinic doesn’t have any sperm donors? If your clinic doesn’t have any sperm donors, you could:

  • depending on your circumstances, ask someone you know such a friend or family member to be a known sperm donor for you
  • move clinics to one with a sperm bank
  • buy sperm from other UK clinics and have it shipped to your treating clinic.

If you’re an NHS-funded patient, you might have an option to transfer your funding to another clinic with available donor sperm. Some clinics might suggest that you import sperm. If you’re considering doing this then there are some factors you might want to consider before choosing to go down this route to parenthood.