May 20, 2024


British soldiers, police, firemen and footballers are being targeted as potential sperm donors as the fertility industry scrambles to top up its dwindling stocks. Now that donor anonymity has been abolished in the UK, nearly all IVF clinics are reporting shortages, according to the Independent newspaper. In Scotland there is only one donor. As well, the quality of sperm appears to be falling, so out of 100 men interested in donating, only five will have sperm healthy enough to use. The National Gamete Donation Trust, a government-funded body for recruiting donors, says that it would like to target places where "men congregate", such as rugby matches and army bases.

There are other initiatives, too. Care, Britain’s biggest chain of IVF clinics, will be marketing sperm sharing: a free cycle of IVF treatment worth US$4,750 to a couple if the man agrees to become a sperm donor. Of course, even if his wife’s treatment is unsuccessful, he still faces the prospect of a knock on the door by an offspring in the distant future. It could be quite stressful. A fertility entrepreneur, John Gonzalez, is taking advantage of the hazards of service in Iraq and Afghanistan to offer free sperm storage to soldiers who donate to his sperm bank. War widows can legally use their partner’s sperm to impregnate themselves if the soldier had given his consent.