Saturday, June 28, 2014

UK Health Radio Medical News Update
Sperm Shortage
The BBC has reported that the UK is facing a major sperm shortage that may be tempting fertility clinics to accept poorer quality sperm, the British Fertility Society (BFS) warns.
Some clinics rely on imported sperm to keep up with demand. The concern is that some clinics may be setting a lower bar to "get donors through the door. This in turn may mean that some women are subjected to more invasive and expensive techniques.  The right to anonymity was removed in 2005 and it is thought that this has had an impact on the numbers of men willing to donate sperm.
At the same time the demand for donors has been falling as advances in fertility treatment let more men father their own children.  However despite this, a shortage of donors has now come to light.
Figures from the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), show nearly1 in 4 samples of donated sperm now come from abroad compared to a figure was one in 10 in 2005. Sperm banks in Denmark and the US being the major suppliers..
This is limiting patient choice and increasing waiting times, leading to potential risky practices, including DIY insemination with a friend's sperm or seeking treatment in a country with less fertility regulation.
The worry is that clinics may be tempted to bend the rules, in the face of a national sperm shortage.
A HFEA spokesperson said: "We expect our clinics to use only donor sperm of a quality that will ensure the best outcome for the patient, and under our code of practice clinics are required to fully inform patients of the different treatment options available to them."

Amanda Thomas
UK Health Radio Medical News Update
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