Donor Sperm

Semen sample provided by a man for the purpose of inseminating a female who is not his sexual partner. Sperm donation is frequently used in the treatment of single women, women in same-sex relationship and for couples where the man cannot father a child.

Donor sperm is a sample of semen provided and usually frozen in order to help a couple or an individual who is not their partner have a baby. 

Donated sperm may be injected directly into a recipient’s uterus in order to achieve fertilisation (artificial insemination or Intra-uterine insemination), or the sperm may be introduced to a mature egg in a laboratory environment. This is before it is left to develop, and then reintroduced to the patient’s womb at a later date (in-vitro fertilisation, commonly known as IVF).

Image: Donor giving container of sperm to doctor


Before a person can donate sperm, they will first be asked to provide some personal information. This may include some non-identifying information that will be presented to the recipient(s) at the time of donation, once the donor has been selected. In the UK, any children born from donor sperm will be allowed to access non-identifying information about the donor once they reach the age of 16. They will then be allowed to access identifying information about them once they reach the age of 18.

A donor may also be offered the opportunity to write a personal description and a goodwill message, in order to help both potential parents and children learn more about them as a person. 

A potential donor will also have to undergo:

  • Health tests (including tests for certain diseases)
  • Genetic tests (including those for certain disorders that may be passed down)
  • Counselling (clinics are required by law to offer counselling, but it is not compulsory to attend)
  • A session to give written consent (your consent may be withdrawn at any time up to the point at which your sperm or resulting embryo is used in treatment)

In most cases, a donor will be required to attend their chosen fertility clinic a 1-3 times a week for between three and six months, in order to make their donation. The donor sperm is produced via masturbation in the privacy of a room in the clinic, before being frozen so that it may be used in future treatment cycles.  Donor sperm can be frozen for any length of time up to 55 years, as long as the recipients are eligible to extend beyond the statutory 10 year storage period.

Donor sperm may not be used to help create more than 10 families in the UK, with no limits on the number of children born within each family. A donor may choose to lower this limit if they so wish, and most will help to create one or two children for one or two families. 

It is illegal to pay for donor sperm in the UK, but a sperm donor may be compensated up to £35 per clinic visit in order to cover expenses. A larger sum may be available if expenses for things like travel, accommodation, or childcare are above this.

If the donor is not a permanent resident of the UK, they may be compensated in the same way as a donor from the UK, but they will not be able to claim overseas travel expenses.