Unregistered sperm donors…handle with care (or preferably don’t handle at all)

Kate Brian has today blogged about the programme transmitted on Radio 4 on Monday 19th January about unregistered sperm donors.  I listened in increasing horror as it sounds as if she did.  I had meant to write about this at the time but other events overtook me so here are Kate’s thoughts about it.  I am in full agreement but what Kate doesn’t mention is the omission in the programme of anything about the impact on a child about being conceived in this way.  Exactly what do you say to a child about this man who collects women, pregnancies and children like someone else might collect stamps or china jugs?  Awful.

“Why a clinic is the best place to find a sperm donor…

Posted on January 28, 2015
If you need to use a sperm donor, and have ever thought that maybe it would be cheaper and easier to find one online than to use a registered clinic, you should listen to this Radio Four programme titled ‘Desperately Seeking Sperm’ and presented by Jolyon Jenkins.

It exposes a strange world where recipients seek out donors online, and where the donors compete with one another to try to produce the most children. These donors are unscreened for sexually transmitted infections or for hereditary conditions, and some insist on “natural insemination”. There was the donor who kept it a secret from his wife, the donor who claimed his sperm was so potent he could get women on the pill pregnant – despite their suggestions that their motives were altruistic, it certainly didn’t feel that way.

Of course, there are also longer term legal implications about using a donor you’ve found online.  Men who donate through clinics are not legally or financially responsible for any child conceived through their donations. This doesn’t apply to men who donate through these online networks, and if a donor opts for natural insemination, he is always the legal father of the child concerned.

If you’ve ever had any doubts about using a donor from a fertility clinic, this programme may be enough to change your mind..”




About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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5 Responses to Unregistered sperm donors…handle with care (or preferably don’t handle at all)

  1. Totally agree with you about the safety of unregistered donation, and on issues re the child.

    To me though this kind of reporting feeds back in to the broader fears we have about men who are very fertile and sexually active – I have talked to very responsible and caring unregistered sperm donors who didn’t want to use clinics because of the lack of personal relationship with the recipients, and lack of proper vetting of the parents (in one case). Obviously women can’t donate without medical intervention. However, we never really hear the same kinds of scare stories about women who want to spread their genes, or anything much about the largely unacknowledged competition between female donors to produce lots of eggs, transferable embryos, pregnancies or do donations back to back.

    I’m not so sure about the ‘sowing the seed’ thing as I wonder whether that is more acceptable simply because we expect men to behave that way and to have some sexual freedom/latitude because of it. Competition between women on other areas is definitely there IMO! Perhaps it isn’t expressed so blatantly, though, and I wonder if people even think to ask.

  2. oliviasview says:

    Interesting thoughts Christabel. I have spoken to a couple of egg donors who included having their genes out there in the world as one of many reasons for donating. Both were women who did not anticipate having children in the context of a relationship. Neither seemed competitive about it, although women undoubtedly are competitive in many areas of life. My personal experience is that most women are genuinely altruistic when it comes to fertility/infertility. I have never come across the slightest hint of competitiveness about producing lots of eggs or creating more pregnancies. I suspect this has a lot to do with egg donation being such a clinical procedure with potentially many unpleasant side effects. Certainly no sexual stimulation or feelings of arousal as there inevitably has to be with sperm donation.

  3. marilynn says:

    People don’t generally screen their partners for genetic disease before conceiving with them but STD’s are another story. If these people want to have unprotected sex together that is not wise bu that is their own risk. But these agreements they are cutting are not fair to the kids when they are born. Not donating anything he’s just promising not to take care of them when they are born.

  4. My parent's donor is my father says:

    I wonder if more German’s will now be doing the same given the legal changes in Germany. I’m sure you heard about this news by now, right? (any comment?)
    “German court removes age limit for sperm donor disclosure
    Children of anonymous sperm donors in Germany have the right to demand the identity of their biological father. Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has said EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW WHO THEIR FATHER IS.”


    Here in one ‘donor’ conceived person’s opinion on it:


    • oliviasview says:

      Yes we have certainly heard about this and congratulated those in Germany who have lobbied for the change. We are in touch with one of the German offspring who has been very vocal about this as well as parents and psychologists.

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