Using Unregulated Sperm Donors


Using a UK sperm donor in an HFEA-licensed treatment centre

Sperm donation in the UK 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. Clinics are also subject to rigorous testing and reporting.

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
  • 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
  • receive implications counselling
  • NOT receive payment for donating other than compensation for expenses (up to £35 per clinic visit).

Additionally, donors in the UK can only donate to up to 10 families.

As recipients, you are the legal parents of any child born following treatment.

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.

Using an unregulated sperm donor

For a variety of reasons you might be considering choosing a non-clinic treatment route to parenthood with donor sperm and are hoping to find a sperm donor online or elsewhere. Whilst it might be tempting, we would urge you to remember that the regulatory body exists to protect you, your child and your donor.

If you are considering using a donor outside a clinic setting it’s important you’re aware that:

  • Legal parenthood could become very complicated. Your donor could be the father of your child. This would give him all sorts of rights and responsibilities that you might not want him to have.
  • There is a very real risk that you could become infected with a sexually transmitted infection or other disease – clinic donor sperm is thoroughly tested, frozen, quarantined and retested.
  • You may not have knowledge of the donor’s personal and family medical history.
  • Your personal safety could be in danger.
  • Your child may have a very high number of half-siblings.
  • A lack of independent implications counselling for both you and the donor could mean that things arise that you’d not had the opportunity to explore and discuss.
  • Your donor may have unpleasant motivations for donating in this way.
  • Your donor may be more or less involved in your child’s life than you want.
  • You won’t have any knowledge about your donor’s sperm quality.
  • You may need fertility treatment for reasons other than needing donor sperm but you won’t find out.