The Slatest

In 2014 the U.K. Started a National Sperm Bank. One Year Later It Has Only Nine Donors.

Re-enactors dressed as Vikings take part in a festival in York, England, in February 2015.  

Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

In 2014 the United Kingdom set up a national sperm bank with $120,000 financial backing from the Department of Health. The idea was to help correct a shortage in donations for individuals and couples trying to conceive. It didn’t work. One year later the national registry of donors has managed to bring its total to a whopping nine male sperm donors, the Guardian reported this week.

The donation numbers are even bleaker considering the rise of same-sex couples seeking donors after recent changes to marriage laws. The organization behind the sperm bank said this week it’s planning a recruitment drive to boost its number of donors into double digits by appealing to British men’s sense of reproductive machismo. “If I advertised saying ‘Men, prove your worth, show me how good you are’, then I would get hundreds of donors,” Laura Witjens, chief executive of the sperm bank, told the Guardian. “That’s the way the Danish do it. They proudly say, this is the Viking invasion, exports from Denmark are beer, lego and sperm. It’s a source of pride.”


Lego and sperm. Sure. That’s one way to sell it. The problem of recruitment, however, most likely stems from these teensy weensy turn offs that an appeal to Brits’ inner-Viking likely won’t change (via the Guardian).

Rules on anonymity for sperm donors in the UK were changed in 2005 to allow any child born after that time the right to trace their biological father when they turned 18. No case has yet been brought, as the first opportunity for an 18-year-old to trace a donor father from 2005 would be in 2023.

That’s a pretty significant game-changer in the sperm donation community, I would imagine.

Getting an approved donor on the books requires a man to come to the clinic twice a week for up to four months, refraining from sex or masturbation for two days before each visit and then be tested again after six months.

What virile Viking would agree to such terms? Only one out of every 100 would-be donors actually makes it through the entire screening process. And what do donors get for their trouble? About 50 bucks a session. That sweet deal has attracted nine of the best and brightest Vikings in the U.K. They’ve got their work cut out for them.