He said: "The proposed changes in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) review (SEED report) and the EU directive on standards relating to the handling and use of human tissues and cells may also lead to further reductions in donor treatment activity. 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."
The potential gap between supply and demand has led senior author Dr Jane Stewart, consultant gynaecologist and specialist in reproductive medicine at the Newcastle Fertility Centre at LIFE, to call for a change of tactics in recruiting donors.
"It is difficult and costly to recruit sperm donors. With the change in the anonymity rules coming we saw a sharp fall in numbers and a change in the profile of the applicants, perhaps reflecting the attitudes of different groups to anonymity. There was a significant increase in the number of men who had partners and, after the Department of Health announcement that anonymity would be removed, there was a substantial fall in the numbers of students."
The unit has been reviewing how it reaches potential donors. "We need to get to the right groups, including minority ethic groups, and inspire them to act," said Dr Stewart, who is also an honorary lecturer at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
She said that the SEED report, with little change in the criteria for acceptance or exclusion and little to offer in the way of extra remuneration, had not really changed the issue of recruitment.
"It is clear now that we can recruit only donors willing to be identified that we need to change our strategies to target older men in established relationships. Since it appears they are likely to offer help for altruistic purposes, we must continue to work to increase public knowledge of
Source:European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology