top of page


Getting confused over all the terminology? Here’s a glossary to help!

Are you new to the world of donor conception? Don't worry, there are lots of new terms and acronyms that can be difficult to get your head round. Even the people that have been around since the beginning struggle. Here is a handy guide to some of the terms that you might come across. 

Anonymous donor - A gamete donor whose identity is not known to the recipient or to the resulting donor-conceived person. Most gamete donors who donated before 1 April 2005 at licensed clinics in the UK are anonymous. Some anonymous donors have chosen to reregister as identifiable donors.

Artificial insemination - this is the old fashioned term for donor insemination (DI) or intrauterine insemination (IUI). It involves a procedure in which a tube is inserted through the cervix into the uterus to directly deposit a sperm sample with the aim of achieving a pregnancy. 

Diblings - This is a term that is popular with some people and disliked by others! It is used to refer to a  group of 'donor siblings' conceived using the same donor. 

Donor Conception Network (DCN) - A UK charity established in 1993 which supports donor-conceived people, their families, and people considering or undergoing donor-assisted conception treatment. It is made up of a supportive network of 1,600 families, based mainly in the UK.

Donor Conceived Register (DCR) - A name given in 2013 to this voluntary information and contact register that enables donor-conceived people, their donors and their half-siblings to exchange information and (where desired) contact one another. The register was established as UK DonorLink in 2003, but changed its name when it began to be administered by the National Gamete Donation Trust as part of the National Gamete Donation Service. The service is now administered by the Hewitt Fertility Centre (HFC). 

Donor insemination (DI) - The insertion of a donated sperm sample into a woman to achieve a pregnancy.

Donor code - An administrative reference number used by clinics to track the use of an individual donor's eggs or sperm. Some people use these codes to help them find genetic siblings through using contact networks and groups that aim to support donor-conceived people, their families, and donors. Whereas the USA's Donor Sibling Registry facilitates and confirms connections primarily by using donor codes, neither UK clinics nor the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority are currently permitted to release such codes. Instead, people who were donor-conceived in the UK can seek siblings via Donor Sibling Link (see below).

Donor information form - A form which must be completed for all UK gamete donors, requiring information to confirm the donor's identity, physical characteristics, ethnic background and medical history. The donor can write a personal description (pen portrait/picture), provide their reasons for donating, and add a goodwill message. The non-identifiable information contained in this form can, upon request, be made available to patients requiring donation, to parents of children conceived with the donor's gametes, and to children conceived with the donor's gametes (once the latter reach the age of 16). When children conceived with the donor's gametes reach the age of 18, the full content of this form can be made available to them on request.

Donor Sibling Link (DSL) - A service established by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in 2010, which enables donor-conceived people aged 18 or over to consent to be put in touch with their genetic siblings.

Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) - A US-based non-profit organisation established in 2000 which facilitates searching for, and establishing contact between, people who are genetically related as a result of gamete donation. It is open to a global membership of donor-conceived people, their families, and donors. It facilitates and confirms connections primarily by using donor codes given to recipients by fertility clinics.

Hewitt Fertility Centre (HFC) - The current administrators of the DCR. 

Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) - A UK public body established by an Act of Parliament in 1990, which regulates treatment using eggs and sperm, and treatment and research involving human embryos. It sets standards for, and issues licences to, fertility treatment and embryo research centres.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) - a treatment for infertility, in which eggs are removed from a woman's body, fertilised with sperm in a laboratory, then returned to the womb shortly afterwards to continue developing.


Known donor -  A gamete donor whose identity is known to the recipient from the outset (but not necessarily to the offspring).

bottom of page