Not enough of the right stuff

sperm breakthrough

There is a sperm shortage in the UK. In a paper published in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (TOG), Dr. Allan Pacey says that sperm donation levels are so low that women are using other, possibly questionable, means to secure sperm.

An audit of sperm donations revealed that 85% of applicants were rejected because of poor quality. Of the remainder, only 3.6% made the grade and was used in assisted conception. The implication is that usable, preferred sperm reserves are even lower than the numbers indicate.

This could be due to important changes in the law which no longer protects the identity of sperm donors. A change in law in 2006 allows individuals over 18 years old who are conceived through sperm donation to discover the name of their genetic father. The law could reach back as far as the 1990s to reveal the names of the bio dads to kids received in that decade.

Whatever the reason, sperm is in such short supply that some fertility clinics and doctors are importing sperm from countries like Denmark. There have also been reports of women ordering sperm online. Women are also choosing to leave the country for fertility treatment elsewhere.

“Regulation is important to ensure that standards are met so that mothers can give birth to healthy babies. However there is also the issue of laws which are prohibitive. It is important for fertility services to operate in an open and transparent manner but it is equally important to address this crisis in donations otherwise women who are desperate to have a child will be driven to seek sperm from sources that may be unregulated and questionable,” said Jason Waugh, TOG editor-in-chief.

Source: TOG, Medical News Today


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