Whether you are a single woman, in a same-sex relationship or a couple experiencing fertility issues, one option when it comes to building your family is to look for a sperm donor.
Fortunately, these days there are several ways to obtain donor sperm. This allows you to select the most suitable option for you. You can get vials from UK-based or international sperm banks or fertility clinics. You can also find your donor online, whether on social media or on specialised platforms dedicated to sperm donation where you can contact the donors that best suit you directly. While searching for the perfect sperm donor, it’s more than likely that you’ll have many questions, such as “how much does it cost to purchase donor sperm?” or “how do I select the right sperm bank or website?” Here’s our guide to looking for a sperm donor in the UK, to help you make the best decision for you and your future family.
UK Sperm banks and fertility centres
In the UK, you can obtain sperm from either British or international sperm banks. Additionally, although most licensed fertility clinics buy vials of sperm from sperm banks, a few of them have their own stock and recruit the donors themselves. This solution is quite convenient, as you can start your fertility treatment in the same clinic that you buy sperm from. This can be reassuring and can also make the entire process run more smoothly.
Which fertility clinic should I choose?
You can obtain donor sperm from a fertility clinic (NHS or private) licensed by the HFEA.
Before making your choice, it’s best to check the waiting lists for donor sperm first, as the time that you have to wait may be especially long at certain clinics. Moreover, donation requirements, as well as the price of donor sperm and treatments costs, vary depending on the fertility clinic or sperm bank. Before you select a facility, don’t hesitate to compare the services that they offer, as well as the prices that they charge.
Additionally, if you wish to have your fertility treatment covered by the NHS (and you meet all of the requirements), you will need a referral from your GP.
Where can I buy a vial of sperm from a sperm bank in the UK?
There are many sperm banks in the UK that offer a large range of solutions, catered to both ends of the financial spectrum.
At Fairfax Cryobank, you can obtain ICI unwashed sperm from a non-anonymous donor for £630. This is £701 for an IUI washed vial, and £514 for an IVF unwashed sperm vial. You can get one year of storage for free if you buy six vials. Shipping costs about £160 per container.
With about 10,000 vials in storage, the London Sperm Bank is the largest sperm bank in the UK. To order a sample of sperm, you must first register as a patient at a licensed fertility clinic. All donor sperm vials cost £950.
The Manchester Fertility has their own sperm bank called Semovo. On the website buysperm.co.uk, you can purchase vials of sperm and browse donors’ profiles via the online catalogue. Their donation clinics are situated in Leeds, Liverpool and at Manchester Fertility clinic. Vials can be supplied to your clinic and delivery is free to most UK facilities. For a vial of sperm, the price is £850. Three ampoules will cost you £2270, and for five, the going rate is £3315.
The London Fertility Centre sperm bank recruit their own sperm donors who are available exclusively to the patients of the centre. Expect to pay £650 per ampoule.
Birmingham Women’s Fertility Centre recruit their own donors at Birmingham Spermbank. They provide fertility treatments such as artificial insemination, IVF and ICSI with donor sperm or partner’s sperm. A vial from a donor from the centre costs £430.
Leicester Fertility Centre offers both NHS and private fertility treatments (including insemination with donor sperm). The clinic has their own sperm bank and does not have an HFEA license to import sperm from overseas.
Can I buy sperm from abroad?
UK fertility clinics are able to import sperm from overseas, but only under certain conditions. If you’re looking to undergo a fertility treatment with donor sperm purchased abroad, you first need to check if the clinic provides import and export services as well, as whether they have the required licence. You may need to pay additional fees.
Cryos is a Denmark-based sperm bank that export vials of sperm to locations around the world. If you want to use vials from this bank in a UK fertility clinic, you must make sure that they are suitable to the clinic and that they meet the legal requirements concerning anonymity (donors must be non-anonymous), screening, quarantine, and age. If you’re performing insemination at home, then you can select any type of donor that correspond to your criteria.
The prices displayed by the Danish bank depend on several criteria, such as the sperm’s motility: the higher the motility, the more expensive the sperm. The cost will also vary according to the type of vials needed, for example, whether they are washed (IUI) or unwashed (ICI). For instance, for a non-anonymous donor, the cost is 378 euros for a low motility IUI-ready vial and 1183 euros for a high motility vial.
At the European Sperm Bank, an ICI vial from a non-contact donor with high motility costs 274 euros. An IUI vial is 342€. The price of an open donor ICI vial is 489€ and for an IUI-ready vial this is 529€. To have your vials delivered costs 275€. This covers shipping fees and VAT.Additionally, this bank can store your vials of sperm for up to 10 years. 3 months of storage costs 50€, 6 months, 100€. For 1 year, this will be 175€ and for 2 years, 290€.
How can I choose and use donor sperm?
What vial to choose depends on several things, such as the type of fertility treatment you’re about to have. If you will be undergoing IVF, at home insemination or intracervical insemination (ICI), you can use either washed or unwashed sperm. If you’re having intrauterine insemination (IUI), you’ll need purified or washed sperm (also called IUI-ready vials).
Additionally, you should be aware that if you want to have your treatment performed in a UK fertility clinic, only sperm purchased from open donors or non-anonymous donors who agree to identity disclosure is acceptable. Buying sperm from an anonymous donor is illegal in the UK.
Moreover, one vial means one treatment cycle. Although no one can predict the number of cycles of insemination that will be needed, you may prefer to buy and store several vials. If this is your case, please note that some banks offer discounts on storage and ampoules if you purchase several samples.
If you are buying sperm from an international bank you can order your vials either online or over the phone and have them delivered straight to your door (if you’re performing insemination at home) or to your fertility clinic (if you are undergoing IUI or IVF).
How are donors recruited in UK sperm banks?
The recruitment requirements sperm donors must meet vary from bank to bank. However, there are certain base criteria common to all facilities.
To qualify, candidates must:
– Be healthy;
– Be aged between 18 and 41;
– Have no personal or family history of genetic conditions;
– Agree to have their identity made available when the donor-conceived children reach the age of 18;
– Be willing to commit for at least 6-12 months, depending on the clinic concerned.
If the candidate meets these basics requirements, they can apply to become a donor over the phone or online. They must provide personal information, such as their family medical history.
Screening donors is an obligation of HFEA-licensed fertility clinics. Therefore, all candidates must undergo a series of medical tests to verify that their sperm is of good quality and that they are not carrying any genetic diseases or STDs (including but not limited to syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, hepatitis, HIV).
The quality of their sperm is also thoroughly screened to assess things such as sperm count, motility, volume and the number of sperm that are capable of surviving the freezing process.
To be able to donate sperm, donors must first give their written consent. They have the right to change or withdraw their consent at any time up to the moment that their semen is used by recipients.
To be accepted as donors, they must agree to commit for a certain amount of time (generally to donate once a week for 3 to 12 months, depending on the clinic.)
Additionally, it’s important to note that the intended parents can access certain non-identifying information (ethnicity, age, medical history) at the time of donation. They can also receive information about the existence of any siblings conceived with the same donor. When they reach the age of 16, children conceived via donation are entitled to access non-identifying information. At age 18 they can receive their donor’s identifying information (full name, birthdate, last known address).
Do sperm donors get paid in the UK?
In the UK it’s illegal to pay a sperm donor. However, donors can obtain £35 compensation for each visit to a clinic, to cover reasonable expenses (for instance, travel, accommodation or childcare).
Where can I find private sperm donors online?
There is another way to obtain donor sperm: selecting a private or known donor online, via social media or a dedicated website that connects aspiring parents with donors, such as CoParents.co.uk.
There are many reasons that lead people to look for a private donor rather than purchasing vials from a sperm bank. Firstly, as this is a private arrangement, you can discuss and negotiate the methods of conception that suit you best. You can also directly contact different donors and even meet them face to face, in order to get to know them better and to ask them all of the questions you might have.
Moreover, you can decide on the level of contact the donor will have with the future child. This is a good option for those who want their child to know who their biological father is. Finally, as waiting lists can be long in certain fertility clinics, looking online can help you to start your family more promptly.
Furthermore, if you choose a private donor, whether online or someone you already know, you must make sure that they are free of any STDs, genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities. Don’t hesitate to request that they provide you with their medical documents.