Donor insemination (DI)

About donor insemination (DI)man

Male infertility is a big problem and the number of men affected is often not appreciated. 15% of all couples wanting to have a baby will have difficulty getting pregnant and, of those, around 25% will be due to problems on the male side. This means that literally millions of men in Britain suffer with poor sperm. In the UK around 3,000 couples will start DI treatment every year and as many as 1500 babies will be born as a result of treatment.

DI is recommended for men with no sperm (Azoospermia) or with very poor sperm quality (severe oligo, astheno or teratozoospermia- low sperm count, poor motility or morphology). More information is available on the Sperm Problems page.

The current legal situation

Under the terms of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act (1990), the HFEA licenses and regulates centres which practice donor insemination. Any child born to a married woman following donor insemination will be legally the child of the husband unless he did not consent to his wife’s treatment. Similarly, if an unmarried couple undergo DI any resulting children will legally be the child of the male partner. If a couple is unmarried at the time of treatment the male partner will not have parental responsibility as defined by the law. Unmarried couples are advised to seek legal advice on this issue prior to treatment.

More details about the HFEA can be found on the HFEA page.


All donors are anonymous volunteers who have been very carefully screened to prevent the transmission of any sexually transmitted diseases including HIV (AIDS virus) and reduce the chance of a genetic abnormality being passed on. We try as far as possible to use sperm from a donor who has the same physical characteristics as you or your partner e.g. skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, build and blood group. However, as this requires a large panel of donors, it may sometimes be difficult to provide a perfect match. Every effort will be made to get as close a match as possible.


The identity of the donor is kept strictly confidential; no information about you is made available to the donor and no information about the donor (except for characteristics such as eye colour, height etc) are made available to you. Women who undergo DI have to be registered with the HFEA as do donors and any children born as a result of treatment.

At the age of 18 children born as a result of DI treatment have the right to approach the HFEA and ask for the following identifying information:-

  • Name of donor
  • Address at date of donation
  • Address at date of birth
  • Last known address
  • Screening tests carried out
  • Personal and family medical history
  • Any additional information that the donor wished to provide

Similarly if a child suspects they are the result of donor insemination they have the right at the age of 18 to approach the HFEA to find out.