September 28, 2022

UK opens national sperm bank

The UK has given a new twist to the one of the oldest arguments for trade protectionism, coddling an infant industry, by launching a national sperm bank.

The UK has given a new twist to the one of the oldest arguments for trade protectionism, coddling an infant industry, by launching a national sperm bank. British clinics are currently unable to meet demand for sperm, according to the UK’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and sperm imported from Denmark and the US has been rising year after year.

“At present, some patients needing donor sperm are faced with few options and find themselves on waiting lists, having to use unregulated providers or having to stop treatment altogether,” says the HFEA.

Dr Allan Pacey, the chair of the British Fertility Society, told the BBC: “We are importing as a nation more and more sperm from overseas, without being xenophobic it kind of just doesn’t feel right, it’s a problem that’s not going away.”

Up to now, British sperm donors tend to be white and UK authorities also want more ethnic diversity. “There will always be some patients who, with regards to sperm donors, will want an individual that is more closely related to them in culture and language and outlook,” says Dr Pacey. This is one reason for locating the first branch in multi-cultural Birmingham.

Statistics just released by the HFEA show that 1 in 10 IVF cycles are conducted with donor eggs or donor sperm in the UK. A third of the users of donor sperm were single or lesbian. 

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