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Donating your sperm

For many people, using donated sperm is the only chance they have of fulfilling their dream to have a family. Find out more about what sperm donation involves and how you can donate at a licensed UK fertility clinic. 

Why do some people need donated sperm?

There are many reasons why people use donated sperm. Around half of all cases where couples are unable to get pregnant naturally are sperm-related. This is usually because the man isn’t producing enough sperm or the sperm is of low quality, but it can also be a side effect of treatments for conditions like cancer.

Some men with serious inherited diseases in their family may want to use donated sperm to avoid passing the disease onto their children. Women in same sex couples and single women will also need donor sperm to have a family.

You can also choose to donate to research into infertility, genetic diseases and fertility treatments.

Find out more about donating to research

What compensation is available?

Sperm donors can receive up to £35 per clinic visit to cover their expenses, with more available for higher expenses such as travel, accommodation or childcare. It’s illegal to pay sperm donors more than their reasonable expenses.

If you’re not a permanent resident of the UK, you may be compensated in the same way as a UK sperm donor but you won’t be able to claim any overseas travel expenses.

Can I donate anonymously?

No. A change in the law in 2005 means that anyone conceived with the help of a donor can ask for their donor’s name, date of birth and last known address when they turn 18. Not everyone will ask for their donor’s details though or will decide to contact them.

Find out more about the rules around releasing donor information

Do I have any legal rights and responsibilities for children born from my donation?

No, providing you donate through a licensed UK fertility clinic, you will have no legal rights or responsibilities to children conceived from your donation. You’ll have no say over their upbringing and won’t be required to pay anything towards their care. 

If you donate outside of a licensed clinic the situation is more complicated as you could be considered the legal father of any children conceived from your donation.  

Am I eligible to donate my sperm?

Sperm donors should normally be aged between 18 and 41. However in some rare cases a clinic might allow an older donor to donate their sperm if they feel there are unlikely to be any serious consequences. You’ll also need to have various health tests for diseases like HIV and Hepatitis, which can take up to six months.

What’s the process for donating my sperm at a clinic?

Personal information: Your clinic will ask you to provide some personal information. Some non-identifying information will be available to the hopeful parents at the time of donation and your identifying information will be available to any children conceived with your donation when they turn 18.

Find out more about the rules around releasing donor information

You'll also have the opportunity to write a personal description and a goodwill message to help potential parents and any children conceived know more about you as a person.

Health tests: You’ll need to have tests for certain diseases, including any serious genetic diseases, before you can donate. Clinics are required to carefully consider the welfare of the child to prevent them from developing any serious medical conditions.

It’s very important you tell your clinic about any problems in your or your family’s medical histories. If you or your family have a serious physical or mental condition and you don’t tell your clinic about it, you could face legal action if a child born from your donation inherits it.

Counselling: Your clinic is required by law to offer you counselling. We strongly recommend you take it up, as it will help you to think through all the implications of your decision and how it could affect you and your family in the future.

Your consent: You need to consent in writing before donating your sperm. You can change or withdraw your consent at any time up to the point at which your sperm are used in treatment.

Donating: You’ll normally need to go to a fertility clinic once a week for between three and six months to make your donation. You’ll be asked to ejaculate into a cup, after which your sperm will be frozen ready for use in treatment, research or training.

Is there a limit on how many children I can help to conceive?

Donated sperm cannot be used to create more than 10 families, with no limits on the number of children born within each family. However, you can choose a lower limit if you wish.

In practice less than 1% of donors create 10 families with most sperm donors creating one or two families, with one or two children in each family.

The reason we set limits on the number of families you can help create is that we know through consultation this is the level which donors and donor-conceived people feel comfortable with in terms of the numbers of potential donor-conceived children, half-siblings and families that might be created.

Can I find out if my donation has been successful?

If your donation results in the birth of a child or children, you can apply to us for information on:

  • the number of children born
  • their gender
  • their year of birth.

We can't give you any information that would reveal the identity of the donor-conceived child(ren).

Man typing on a laptop in a cafe

You can apply to us for information on the outcome of your donation

What if I change my mind?

You can change your mind about donating your sperm at any time up to the point your sperm is used in someone’s treatment. This is true even if you’ve given written consent.

Find out more about giving consent

What about the emotional impact of donating my sperm?

Before you donate your sperm your clinic is required by law to offer you counselling. This will be an opportunity for you to make sure you’re completely comfortable with what you’re about to do.

At some point, one or more children born from your donation might get in touch with you so it’s important you’re ready for that.

Also you might have your own children and/or a partner in the future (if you don’t already) and you’ll need to think about whether and how to talk to them about it.

What are the next steps for donating my sperm?

If you'd like to donate your sperm you'll need to find a clinic that's currently recruiting sperm donors. You can search for all licensed UK clinics that are accepting sperm donors on our website.

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Review date: 1 November 2019