Sperm shortage possible in Britain after Brexit

If Britain fails to reach an agreement with the European Union before it exits the bloc, it could face a shortage of sperm. But as demand for donations increases and British donations fall short, this could be a problem.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Sperm shortage possible in Britain after Brexit - NewsMavens
Woman and microscope. Pixabay

Why this story matters:

Last week the British government's no-deal Brexit plans included preparation guidelines for a possible sperm shortage.

Currently, the UK imports sperm from overseas, predominantly from Denmark. It collected 3,000 samples of sperm in 2017 from Danish commercial sperm banks, as well as 4,000 from the United States.

In case of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would have to leave the EU Tissues and Cells Directives, which regulates the transportation of tissues, cells and sperm from around Europe.

In turn, new written agreements with fertility clinics and donation banks in the EU will have to be drafted. 

Britain has struggled for years to attract enough suitable donors, with a national sperm donation charity due to close next year due to a lack of funding.

Attempts to follow the example of Denmark in promoting sperm donation through sending a "superman" message also hasn't worked.

Eggs and embryo donation might also be impacted. The government paper said usually fewer than 500 eggs and embryos are imported per year, but they do come primarily from EU countries.

It's not clear yet what the real-life effects of Brexit will be on sperm, but I am trying to find out for a story for WikiTribune. Please collaborate if you are interested or feel able to (link below).

Details from the story:

  • Britain faces a sperm shortage after Brexit if no deal is reached.
  • The country imports 3,000 sperm donations per year from Denmark.
  • It also imports from a small number of other EU countries. 
  • Sperm banks in the UK are struggling to meet the demand of a growing number of women wishing to have children through IVF, and same-sex couples hoping to have pregnancies.
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