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Sperm shortage drives some Brits to Denmark

11 January 2010
Appeared in BioNews 540

A British woman has travelled to Denmark to undergo donor insemination after the fertility clinic where she had been receiving treatment in the UK ran out of sperm, BBC News reports. Single and 41, Abby, who is using a pseudonym, made the decision after three unsuccessful insemination attempts in the UK using donated sperm. Once the clinic informed her there was no more sperm available she contacted the Danish clinic. Following treatment there she gave birth to a health boy, Oscar, conceived using a Danish donor's sperm.

The story illustrates how a number of British women are seeking donor insemination outside the UK because of a shortage of sperm, BBC News says. Denmark is an increasingly popular destination for women travelling abroad for fertility treatment and it is also home to the world's largest sperm bank. Under Danish law sperm donors may be paid by clinics and they also remain anonymous. In the UK, donor anonymity was removed in 2005, and the law now allows donor-conceived individuals access to identifying information about their biological father and, potentially, their genetic half-siblings. Many commentators have attributed a present shortage in sperm supply to this change in law.

The Vita Nova fertility clinic in Copenhagen reports a 40 per cent rise in British women coming to their clinic since 2005. Sophie Bugge from the Vita Nova clinic says that donor anonymity laws have resulted in longer waiting lists for donor sperm. 'Women who have decided to have a child don't feel that they can wait two years, if there is a two-year waiting list,' she said, adding that this was the most common reason for choosing fertility treatment abroad.

The Cryos sperm bank in Denmark has expanded in recent years and has opened franchises in the United States and more recently India. In a similar vein, the Age newspaper reports that Danish companies have attracted many American customers from North American offices through advertisement campaigns focusing on the commonly perceived physical characteristics of Scandinavian men, such as athleticism and strength.

Brits opting for IVF 'Viking' babies
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Danes design Viking babies
The Age |  5 June 2005
26 September 2011 - by Luciana Strait 
The world's largest sperm bank, Cryos International, is turning away red-haired men as donors due to a lack of demand for their sperm. Its director, Mr Ole Schou, said the bank has reached its capacity of 70 litres of semen due to a surge in donations in recent years...
22 March 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
A Scottish fertility clinic is offering men free porridge if they donate sperm, in an attempt to tackle a sperm donor shortage...
11 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
Sports fans in Manchester, UK, will be asked 'Have you got the balls?' to donate sperm by a National Health Service (NHS) promotional campaign....
5 October 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Beginning from last Thursday, new disclosure laws for donor-conceived individuals and gamete/embryo donors came into force which will broaden access to donor genetic information. The provisions were enacted together with the vast majority of the new Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 2008, approved by Parliament last year and aimed at updating its predecessor 1990 statute to be more inline with contemporary liberal attitudes and advances in reproductive technolog...
25 September 2009 - by Dr Caroline Jones 
October sees the enactment of almost the entire Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 2008, including the new disclosure provisions for donor-conceived individuals and gamete/embryo donors. In this commentary I outline the amended disclosure provisions and highlight a number of issues raised by these changes....
1 September 2009 - by Dr Francoise Shenfield 
As a clinician based in the UK, one cannot fail to be aware that some patients seek fertility treatments abroad. Until now we only had newspaper headlines or anecdotal evidence, but having presented the results of the first European study in Amsterdam at the annual ESHRE conference (1), we may now base our reflections on some facts, even if selected by the voluntary nature of participating colleagues and centres abroad....
3 August 2009 - by Sarah Norcross 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) published new figures showing the number of new egg and sperm donors registered in 2008. The figures published on 31 July 2009 show that the number of both sperm and egg donors has increased....
6 July 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
An acute shortage of donor sperm is diminishing the capacity of the UK's public and private health sectors to treat infertility, resulting in growing concern and lengthening waiting lists at clinics. The shortage is widely attributed to the removal, in 2005, of entitlement to donor anonymity. The Progress Educational Trust, with support from the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Fertility Society (BFS) staged a panel discussion on Thursday 25 June 2009 entitled 'Banking Crisis - what ...
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