Men’s health

How to find a sperm donor in the UK

November 11, 2022
Lizzie Hayes

There are a huge range of reasons why someone might look to use a sperm donor. You may be a single woman looking to start a family, you may be a same sex couple, you may be developing plans for a pregnancy in which male subfertility is a factor.

Everyone’s experience with sperm donors will be different, and each person will have a unique journey. Nonetheless the steps you must take to identify and engage a sperm donor are relatively universal.  

In this piece, we’ll look at how to go about finding a sperm donor, and provide advice and tips on how to navigate the process.  

Do bear in mind that if you’re looking for information about sperm donors because male subfertility is a factor, there may be other more suitable approaches or treatments. Consider consulting your doctor or speaking to your Fertifa Care Advisor.  

Step 1: choose a fertility clinic and confirm your decision

For most people, the journey begins by choosing a fertility clinic who will support and guide you through the process of connecting with a donor. The first stage in your relationship with the fertility clinic will involve some medical testing to determine whether a sperm donor is the right option for you. The tests will seek to identify if there is an issue with fertility that needs to be addressed, evaluating the female and male partners in heterosexual couples and the partner looking to carry the child in same sex couples. Following a consensus that finding a sperm donor is the best fit for the person or couple who are planning a pregnancy, the clinic will move on to a further set of routine tests to collect detail on the relevant parties’ medical history, sexual health, bloody type, immunities and vaccine history.  

  • Sperm donors can be identified via fertility clinics that are NHS or private, so long as they are licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).  
  • For treatment at an NHS fertility clinic you will need a referral from your GP.  
  • It can be a good idea to check waiting lists for donor sperm before you choose your clinic, in case there are especially long waits at particular clinics. Once you’ve reviewed this factor, you could take a look at each clinic’s donation requirements, sperm prices, treatment costs and services offered.
  • It’s useful to note that in the UK, it’s possible to obtain sperm from either British or international sperm banks. Furthermore, although most fertility clinics provide sperm that they have procured from sperm banks, you’ll find that quite a few of them have their own stock. This means that, if it feels reassuring or convenient, you’ll be able to start your fertility treatment in the same clinic that you choose your sperm from. There’s plenty of information available about where you can buy sperm from, both in terms of UK vendors and sperm from abroad. If you are considering procuring sperm from abroad  

Step 2: make a plan for supporting your mental health  

It’s entirely normal to have questions and concerns about using a sperm donor, and, if you are undergoing the process as a couple, raising a child that is not related to your partner. It’s important to be prepared to confront the fact that using a sperm donor may be a challenging process that does not result in a pregnancy for you, and there is also the possibility that, if it does, your child will be curious about their biological roots later in life. For these reasons, your fertility clinic should provide counselling and support ahead of you receiving donor sperm treatment.  

  • Don’t be afraid to ask about other available support systems, additional resources or what other people using sperm donors have done in the past.  

Step 3: treatment consultation with your fertility clinic  

Your team at the clinic will take you through each stage of the process and explain the protocol, including providing details on how to administer your medication and answering any questions you might have.  

  • You may want to enquire about whether the type of fertility treatment you’re having will affect the kind of sperm you should choose (washed or unwashed).  
  • It’s important to remember that one vial (of sperm) means one treatment cycle. No one will be able to predict how many cycles of insemination you may need to achieve a pregnancy, but it’s possible to enquire about buying and storing several vials at once.  
  • Your team should also be able to provide plenty of information about how sperm donors are recruited.  

Step 4: choose your donor  

At this stage, the team at your fertility clinic will talk you through available donor sperm, help advise you on how to approach making a decision and eventually match you with a suitable donor.  

  • If you are looking to use donor sperm from a source outside of your clinic, your team at the clinic will be able to advise you on how to make this transfer.  
  • It might be useful to be aware that since 2005, donors in the UK are no longer anonymous. As a result, if you have a child using donor sperm, at 18-years-old (or 16 if they are planning to marry) your child will be legally entitled to ask the HFEA for identifying information about your sperm donor. If you’re concerned about this or would like to consider the implications in more detail, you can speak to you Fertifa Patient Advisor about how to prepare for this situation.  
  • Remember also that once you have completed your consent forms, you will be regarded as the legal guardians for any children born as a result of the treatment, and the sperm donor will not be liable at all for raising the child.  

Every person or couple has a different experience when it comes to trying for a baby. Some people get pregnant quickly, and for others it can take much longer. If you’ve been trying for a baby for a year or more and your partner is not pregnant or if you'd like to get your sperm tested, it’s a good idea to speak to your Fertifa Patient Advisor who can help you with the next steps.

If you're not part of Fertifa, but you're interested in putting fertility support and benefits in place at work, get in touch here to book a call with our team. We'd love to chat about how we can help 💜