Treatments and tests

Unregulated and informal sperm donation

  • Unregulated and informal sperm donation occurs in private settings.
  • There are risks associated with unregulated donor assisted conception.
  • Talk with your health professional about your fertility goals.

Informal donation arrangements might occur between two people who know each other or arranged between people online or via social media groups.

What are the risks?

The risks of unregulated sperm donation include:

  1. Birth defects and genetic conditions due to lack of screening.
  2. Donors making very large families which increases the risk of a donor conceived child unknowingly having a relationship with a relative.
  3. Donor conceived children not having the right or being able to obtain information on the donor parent.

Registered fertility clinics are required to undertake screening for sexually transmitted infections, medical and genetic conditions that can impact pregnancy and donor conceived children.

Clinics in WA aren’t allowed to use donors who have more than 5 families (in addition to their own) but there’s a worrying trend where some unregulated sperm donors are claiming to have fathered high numbers of children – this increases the risk that a donor conceived child will unknowingly form a relationship with a relative and also impacts the well-being of donor conceived children.

Under the current regulations donor conceived children born since 2004 have a right to access information on their donor once they are 16 years of age. Unregulated sperm donation can make it less likely that a child will be able to obtain this information which can lead to emotional distress and lack of access to important medical information.

Other risks of unregulated sperm donation

Current laws in WA are clear on parental rights for donor conceived children in a clinic setting. Unregulated sperm donation and insemination may not afford the same legal protections for donor and recipients.

Donation in WA must be altruistic, although reasonable expenses can be covered for the donor. Payments or inducements offered to donors are breaking the law.

There have been reports of coercion and assault of women through the unregulated donation process – meeting strangers you have met online can be risky.

For recipients – how to reduce risks

  • Talk to your medical practitioner about your fertility goals.
  • If you have a donor in mind, working through the clinic system is still the safest way to reduce risks for you and your donor.
  • Seek legal advice.
  • Find an approved provider at Your IVF Success (external site)

Where to get help

Last reviewed: 31-05-2022

Reproductive Technology Unit

Link to HealthyWA Facebook page