The state of British sperm

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Before the British government published its guidance for a ‘no-deal Brexit’ scenario, in which the UK will exit the European Union without an exit deal, access to sperm was not an issue that was widely discussed.

But a document on the quality and safety of organs outlined the possibility of a curious event as a consequence of a ‘no deal’ Brexit: a shortage of sperm.

The guidance comes after Britain’s sperm banks have for years failed to keep up with demand by attracting donors (The Guardian), leading the country to import from overseas.

Britain currently imports donated sperm mostly from commercial sperm banks in the United States (4,000 samples in 2017) and Denmark (3,000 samples imported in 2017), according to the document.

The success of Denmark’s booming sperm banks has been attributed to their marketing techniques: appealing to male vanity and sending a “superman” message.

The National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT), the UK’s only charity raising awareness of the national shortage of sperm, egg and embryo donors in the UK, unsuccessfully attempted to echo the Danish strategy. It stopped recruiting donors and scaled down its operations in 2016 and faces closure in April 2019 due to being unfunded.

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Questions to be asked

  • What are the requirements for donating sperm in the UK?
  • Why are sperm donation centres not getting enough donations from British men?
  • How many donations do private clinics receive per year?
  • Are men trying to donate sperm but it does not meet the requirements?
  • Who donates sperm in the UK? What are their professions?
  • Where will Britain import from after Brexit if it cannot import easily from Denmark?
  • What does the international sperm donation market look like? Which other countries export and import sperm donations?
  • What are the international laws and regulations on children contacting sperm donors once aged 18?


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