Sperm Donor Basics

Question - Sperm Donor Basics:

"I have a few simple questions about sperm donation:

  • Is there a national law/policy of a 21 or over age limit? I'm 20 and interested in donating.
  • Is the value of the donation based on things like height, eye color, etc? (I'm pretty short, will that be a problem?)
  • What is an average compensation for a donor?
  • What responsibilities does a donor have? Some banks require a two year commitment. What does this entail?"


First, you should know that in the United States, there are no laws governing such things. Rather, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and other expert groups (such as the American Association of Tissue Banks) issue recommendations and guidelines which they encourage practitioners and agencies to use in exchange for accreditation. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, the Human Fertilisation & Embryo Authority (HFEA) is a government-authorized licensing and regulation authority, so that clinics in the UK are required to abide by HFEA codes of practice.

That said, I'll respond in duality, since I don't know from where you come:

In regards to age:

  • In the US, it is recommended that donors be "of legal age," which varies from state to state, and that they not be older than 40 years.
  • In the UK, donors must be at least 18 years old and not older than 55 years.

In regards to value of physical characteristics:
In both nations, the more important characteristics are those of health and genetics, ie. free of genetically-transmissable disorders. To my knowledge, there has been no study done compiling the data of, say, the average appearance characteristics chosen by donor insemination (DI) patients in this country or that. You may want to contact individual agencies to find out what their averages tend to be.

In regards to compensation:

  • In the US, the ASRM states that while payment will vary between localities and agencies, payment "should not be such that the monetary incentive is the primary factor in donating sperm." They go on to say that compensation for time and expenses is appropriate.
  • In the UK, the HFEA states that "centres may pay donors a maximum of 15 for each donation plus their reasonable expenses." Compensation for expenses should not be an incentive, but should be adequate reimbursement. The HFEA provides their licensed clinics with guidelines for determining appropriate expenses.

In a brief web and phone polling (US only), I found fees paid to donors from a low of $30 to a high of $200. The variances concern the quality of the sperm (for example, count, morphology, and motility) and the popularity of appearance/personality characteristics. For example, some of the highest fees are paid by a clinic which advertises a high proportion of doctoral candidates among their donors.

In regards to commitment, the answers are tied to compensation information:

One clinic requires a 6-month commitment during which time the donor is required to produce one sample per week. This is one of the higher fee-paying labs. Another requires a one-year commitment, and pays only $40 per specimen.

At yet another laboratory, a representative quipped that he'd "like to see them try" to mandate observance of a time-centered commitment by donors; in that particular lab, donors are asked to make a minimum of 20 donations in roughly whatever time is mutually pragmatic to both donor and lab.

In general, donors are responsible for providing a certain amount of specimens during a specified length of time. In addition to complete physicals at the beginning and end of their contract period, they must be available for routine cultures and blood draws throughout the process in most cases, as part of the specimen screening. I did not find any cases in which donors are required to commit to using only one specific lab during their contract period.

It may also be helpful for you to know that:

  • In the US, it is recommended (by ASRM) that no single donor be allowed to produce more than 25 pregnancies in a population of 800,000, whereas
  • In the UK, no donor is allowed to produce more than 10 live children.

One very crucial piece of information for donors in the UK: a law passed in January 2004 has removed anonymity from the third-party donor process. To wit, "...children born as a result of sperm, eggs or embryos donated after April 2005 will be able to access the identity of their donor when they reach the age of 18. The earliest 18 year olds will be able to do this will be in 2023." Anyone who donated prior to April 2005 will remain anonymous.

While no such law exists in the US, there is a growing movement, supported by many professionals, toward allowing adult offspring of donor gametes to know about and possibly contact their donor parent.

Visitor Comments (3)
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.
Heather - 3 weeks ago
I am willing to sell my eggs I am 22 and very willing to do this to help get money for my family #1
amber - 4 months ago
0 0 0
I am 35 and I want to donate my eggs?how do I go about doing this #2
Josh - 5 months ago
0 0 0
Hi I would like to know. Can a gay man donate his sperm? Thanks xxxx #3