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Britain faces sperm donor shortage

Donor recruitment campaigns targeting older men

Reuters

Updated: 2:52 p.m. ET Nov. 10, 2005

LONDON - Britain is facing a critical shortage of sperm donors after a change in the law to remove anonymity scared away students who had been the main source, fertility experts said on Thursday.

Donor recruitment campaigns should therefore focus on older men, already in stable relationships and not scared of having their identities revealed in 18 years' time, they added.

"It is clear, now that we can recruit only donors willing to be identified, that we need to change our strategies to target men in established relationships," said Jane Stewart, consultant gynecologist at the Newcastle Fertility Center.

"Since it appears they are likely to offer help for altruistic purposes, we must continue to work to increase public knowledge of the need for donors up to the age of 40," she added.

A report published in Human Reproduction magazine revealed that the number of applicants to become sperm donors to the center -- one of the Britain's leading fertility clinics -- had slumped to just 25 in 2003 from 175 in 1994, with the main drop since 2000.

It was in 2000 that people became aware of planned legal changes to remove donor anonymity.

The law came into effect earlier this year, giving people conceived from donated sperm the right to know the identity of the donor when they reached the age of 18.

Stewart said that after news of the impending law change there had been a significant drop in the number of applications from students and a rise in the number of older men.

At the same time quality standards were being raised and, as the acceptance rate was less than four in 100, the shortage had become critical, the report said.

"On the other hand, the demand for donor sperm is likely to increase because of a possible decline in the semen quality in the general UK population," said the report's lead author Sudipta Paul.

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On the other hand, the demand for donor sperm is likely to increase because of a possible decline in the semen quality in the general UK population," said the report's lead author Sudipta Paul.

This is a statement you just never think you'd hear. ".. possible decline in the semen quality.." Who tests this and what are the, um, qualties they're looking for. :)

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