There is a known shortage of sperm donors in the international assisted reproduction market (read HERE). The UK legislation that bans the anonymity of gamete donors, for obvious reasons, has reduced the availability of sperm even further, a problem that has been compounded with the coronavirus pandemic. In this context, the UK National Health Service has been required to stop collecting sperm (read more HERE). Consequently, the struggle to find a sperm donor leaves only one alternative: the black market. Couples are recruiting possible sperm donors from the online market to access assisted reproduction.

Sperm donation black market grows with coronavirus restrictions

In this respect, earlier this month, British newspaper The Sunday Times published an article with the incredible title “Sperm donors on Facebook as fertility clinics run short”, subtitled, “A risky black market has emerged after delays caused by the virus, with some men insisting on ‘natural insemination’”. One day later, the Daily Mail also published an article about the issue, entitled, “Desperate couples turn to Facebook to find sperm donors as low stocks at fertility clinics amid pandemic fuel an online ‘black market’ – and some men are charging up to £200 a sample and demanding sex to donate ‘naturally(read more HERE and HERE).

The issue has several medical and bioethical implications for the eventual mother, the children and the fertility clinics themselves.

In this respect, the long waiting lists in the few fertility clinics that are still offering this service have continued to grow. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has recently reported that 20% of the clinics have stopped the majority of their fertility treatments (read more HERE), and warned about the online black market, arguing that it is unregulated and carries significant risks such as sexually transmitted infections or genetically inherited disorders reported The Sunday Times.