New UK sperm bank will help lesbians beat donor shortage

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A new national sperm bank in the UK, which will make it easier for lesbian couples and single women to have children, is scheduled to launch in October 2014. It will help both NHS and privately funded individuals and couples, and has the potential to benefit thousands of patients, especially lesbian couples.

Currently, there is a shortage of sperm donors in the UK. This is despite an increase in women in same-sex relationships seeking out fertility treatment. When lesbians are unable to use sperm from a known donor, they are often required to use sperm from a clinic. Alternatively, they might seek out riskier options.

The new UK sperm bank is designed to help reduce the use of unregulated sperm. It will also help those from ethnic minorities to gain better access to culturally matched donors. The initiative will deliver a nationally co-ordinated response to overcoming the current shortage of donor sperm.

The national sperm bank will also help reduce waiting times. Some women wait years to gain access to sperm from abroad. This is problematic given the links between declining fertility and age.

National funding for sperm bank

The sperm bank has been funded by £77,000 awarded by the UK Department of Health to The National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) in partnership with Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

Charles Lister, NGDT Chair of Trustees explains:

“Essentially, the National Sperm Bank will increase the number of donor samples available for UK licensed clinics, both NHS and private, meaning that many more patients can be treated at a clinic of their choice, in a safe and secure manner, at the time when their treatment is needed.”

It has been estimated that the new sperm bank will allow women to search for suitable donors for less than £300. This is approximately £550 cheaper than current options at private clinics in the UK.

It is anticipated that a large number of the women who will access the sperm bank will be single, professional heterosexual women and women in same-sex relationships.

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