9 February 2018

6 things you need to know about using donor sperm

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Complete Fertility

You might need donor sperm to help you start a family for a number of reasons including being: a man with very low sperm count or no sperm, a female same-sex couple or, a single woman.

In this blog we’ll help guide you through the six main things you need to consider when choosing fertility treatment with donor sperm.

  1. Finding donor sperm

There are two main ways to find donor sperm, using:

  • An anonymous donor – Men who have donated their sperm in the hope of giving someone the opportunity to have a family. Available from a licensed UK or overseas fertility clinic.
  • A known donor – Sperm is donated at the clinic by someone you know or a donor you have met through an introduction website.
  1. Choosing a fertility clinic

In the UK, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) licenses and regulates all fertility clinics. They offer advice to patients on what to consider when choosing a fertility clinic including: effective treatment, compassionate staff, clear pricing, seamless administrative processes and, exceptional emotional support.

For NHS fertility treatment you’ll need to meet the NHS criteria for the area you live in and, a referral from your GP.

3. Donor sperm screening

Fertility clinics and sperm banks licensed by the HFEA have to screen the donor sperm they use, including known donor sperm, to ensure it is safe.

Screening is for: infections, such as Chlamydia, Syphilis, Hepatitis, Gonorrhoea and HIV, and certain genetic disorders, and gives you peace of mind.

Sperm donated outside of a licensed fertility clinic will not have been screened for infections and inheritable diseases.

If you choose to have treatment at an overseas fertility clinic then they may have different safety rules, so it’s worth doing your homework. If you import donor sperm from abroad, it must be UK compliant.

  1. Treatment type

In a fertility clinic, intrauterine insemination with donor sperm (DI) is a straightforward procedure where specially prepared sperm is placed directly into your womb during your fertile time of the month, when eggs are being released.

Donor sperm can also be used in in vitro fertilisation (IVF). IVF involves removing eggs from your ovaries and fertilising them with sperm in a laboratory dish before putting them back in your womb.

  1. Anonymity

If you use donor sperm from a HFEA licensed clinic, the donor will be identifiable. This means that from the age of 18 a donor conceived person can access information about their donor including full name, date and town of birth and, last known address and they therefore have the potential to contact the donor. They can also access donor-conceived-sibling information and join the Donor Sibling Link, which helps donor siblings exchange contact details if they wish. HFEA clinics can only use each donor’s sperm to create up to ten families.

You will be able to find out some information about your donor, such as ethnicity, personal characteristics, medical history and, some clinics including Complete Fertility Centre invite donors to write a pen portrait that includes a description about them and a goodwill message intended for any child or children born as a result of their donation.

If you choose to import sperm to the UK, your overseas donor must be prepared to be identifiable to comply with UK law.

Your donor may be identifiable or anonymous if you are considering going overseas for your sperm donation fertility treatment. 

  1. Your legal rights

If you use donated sperm from a UK licensed clinic, you will be the child’s legal parent and the donor will not:

  • be the legal parent of your child
  • have any legal obligation or rights to the child
  • be named on the birth certificate
  • have any rights over how the child will be brought up
  • be required to support the child financially.

If you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse will automatically be the child’s second legal parent, unless they did not consent to treatment.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will be the second legal parent if you both sign the consent form from your clinic.

Known donor sperm given directly to you at home (home insemination) won’t have the legal protection that a UK licensed clinic offers and, the law on who will be the child’s other parent is less clear. You will always be the child’s mother however, it is possible that the sperm donor will be the legal father of your child, depending on:

  • whether you’re single, married or in a civil partnership at the time of conception
  • whether the insemination took place through artificial insemination or sexual intercourse
  • who is named on the birth certificate
  • whether the donor will have established a relationship with the child

If you choose to go to an overseas fertility clinic then you may also be bound to different legal rules, so it’s worth doing your homework.

Donor sperm treatment at Complete Fertility Centre

As a HFEA licensed fertility clinic, Complete Fertility Centre offers full screening of donor sperm and, legal protection regarding parental responsibility for you and your partner if you have one.

We have our own in-house sperm bank if you require donor sperm or you can arrange to bring your own sperm donor who we will screen before use.

You can select our donors based on their physical characteristics, employment, education, hobbies and pen portraits.

All patients undergoing treatment with donor sperm are required to attend counselling, to fully explore the implications of this, before making any decisions.

Contact us for more information

Call our donor team on 02380 010 575 or email donorcoordinator@completefertility.co.uk.

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