People using unlicensed sperm websites to obtain eggs or sperm for fertility treatment run a number of serious risks:
- legality – the law states that no-one can 'procure, test, process or distribute' eggs or sperm to be used for human application without a licence from the HFEA. This includes organisations controlling the supply or transport of sperm or eggs.
- paternity –the law says that men donating sperm through HFEA-licensed fertility clinics are not the legal father of any child born through that donation. This includes cases where the donor is known to the recipient. Men donating sperm in any other way – such as via internet services or private arrangements with people they know – are legally the father of any children born, with all the responsibilities that carries.
- health risks - in licensed clinics donor sperm and eggs are subject to rigorous quality checks, including screening to ensure that the material has not been infected with diseases such as Chlamydia or HIV. Patients using unlicensed services do so at their own risk.
We recommend that people seeking to donate sperm or to be treated using donated sperm do so only through the UK's licensed clinics. This includes cases where the donor is known to the recipient.
We have been in discussion with internet sperm companies and their predecessors since 2006 to warn them that they would need a licence from the HFEA if they were to continue to operate after 5 July 2007. None of these companies has completed applications to the HFEA in an attempt to get a licence.
Since 5 July 2007 we have written to UK internet sperm companies stressing to them that distributing or procuring eggs or sperm without a licence from the HFEA is a criminal offence.
Page last updated: 13 April 2009