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LONDON – In vitro fertilization (IVF) has become a popular method by which women who are having trouble getting pregnant are able to use donor sperm to achieve pregnancy. In the UK, however, there is a shortage of donor sperm that is causing British women to have to travel to countries like Denmark in order to find some.
A 2005 British law change outlawed the donating of sperm anonymously. UK law also has a long-standing rule that prohibits men who donate from receiving any sort of monetary compensation. Because of these rules, and the fact that many men fear having to provide their identities with the donation because the children may eventually try to find and meet them, few British men are donating sperm these days. As a result, the waiting list to receive IVF in the UK is several years.
In 2007, Denmark changed its laws and now permits anonymous donors, which has led to a surge in foreign women coming there to receive IVF treatment. Danish donors are also compensated between $60 and $200 for their donations which has helped to facilitate a large number of casual donors. The Danish sperm bank, Cryos, is the largest sperm bank in the world and is a popular destination for “infertility tourists” seeking to have children.
Denmark is one of the few nations that allows anonymous donations as well as monetary compensation for them. For this reason, Danish clinics are flourishing with increased business. DanFert in Copenhagen more than doubled its IVF customers since 2007. Vita Nova in Copenhagen has seen a 40 percent increase in women seeking IVF from Britain alone.
Danish clinics also cater to single women who are trying to have children, a controversial scenario rejected by many other nations who aim to serve couples trying to conceive. Such liberal laws have attracted all sorts of women from around the globe who wish to bear children but are otherwise unable.
Because of the popularity of the program, Danish banks have begun opening up franchised fertility clinics in other countries that permit it, including in the US and India. In these countries, men who are looking to make some extra cash often donate to the clinic, a practice that has all but ceased in Britain due to the laws.
Many women are hoping that UK laws will once again allow for anonymous sperm donors. They believe it will help to increase supply and end the shortage that has prevented many women from receiving IVF there.