Becoming a Sperm Donor

Men between the ages of 18 and 45 who are healthy can usually be sperm donors. Some clinics do accept men who are over 45. Ideally, sperm donors should have healthy children of their own.

Some countries allow sperm donors to be paid for their services, others pay only reasonable expenses (UK), and other countries make no payment at all.

Many countries currently have a shortage of sperm donors and so acting as a sperm donor is often regarded as a helpful service in the same way as being an organ donor.

There may be all sorts of reasons why a woman might need the assistance of a sperm donor. These include women who have had their ovaries removed due to cancer, women whose ovaries are damaged by chemotherapy or radiotherapy and women who are born with a condition known as Turner’s Syndrome which means they do not have a functioning ovary.

Sperm donation can be made through a private licensed clinic which then chooses the women who might benefit from the sperm donation. Or it might take place as a private arrangement. Some couples trying for a baby prefer to use a relative so that the baby will be related to the father or a friend so that the process is less formal.

Before deciding to be a sperm donor, it is important to make sure you have considered the following:

1. If you donate sperm through a licensed clinic, you will at least have the protection of ensuring that you have no legal obligation or duties towards any children born using your sperm. However, if you donate privately, you are not guaranteed such protection.

2. Using a licensed clinic means that your sperm will be screened for certain medical conditions and sexually transmitted diseases and this offers extra protection for a woman using your sperm than if you go ahead with a private arrangement. Screening your sperm will also mean that babies born using your sperm will be healthy.

3. You may be the biological father of children whose identity you will not know unless they come looking for you. Some countries allow children born from donated sperm to be given the identity of the donor when that child reaches the age of 18. The UK is one of those countries. However, as a donor, you will not be allowed to know the identity of any children born to you.

4. If the sperm is donated through a clinic you will not be financially liable to maintain the child and will not have parental responsibility for the child. If you donate sperm through a private arrangement you do not have the same protection, unless the donation is to a lesbian couple in a civil partnership and donation does not involve sexual intercourse.

5. If you donate sperm through artificial insemination by a private arrangement you may have some legal responsibility for the child, especially if sexual intercourse takes place.

6. In the UK in the case of lesbian couples using sperm donors, they will both be treated as the legal parents if they are in a civil partnership at the time of the conception, and no sexual intercourse takes place with the donor. It does not matter whether the sperm donation is through a clinic or private artificial insemination.

7. In the UK in the case of lesbian couples who are not in a civil partnership, they will only automatically become the legal parents if the sperm donation takes place through a licensed clinic and they sign consent forms. Otherwise, it will be necessary to adopt the child to gain parental rights, or if they subsequently enter into a civil partnership the non-birth parent can apply for parental responsibility.

8. If you donate to a clinic your sperm could be used to make more than one child. In some countries the law allows as many as 10 families to benefit from one donor.

9. There is no guarantee that children will be conceived using the sperm you have donated as on average the chances of conception occurring are 20-25%.

10. Not all fertile men will be suitable as sperm donors as they must have a high number of “motile” sperm in their ejaculation as sperm can die during the freezing process. If using a clinic, you will have to undergo blood tests and a genital examination. If it is a private arrangement, you will not know whether the sperm sample contains a high number of “motile” sperm.