Couples are reportedly becoming desperate for sperm donors as the coronavirus pandemic has caused low stock at fertility clinics.
According to Daily Mail, desperate couples are turning to Facebook to find sperm donors as fertility clinic stocks are depleted and IVF treatment is delayed.
It’s claimed demand is so high that some men are charging fees of up to £200 for sperm samples – which is illegal.
Others are requested to donate their sperm “naturally” – via sex.
International shortages of sperm donations due to current lockdowns across the world has reportedly fuelled an online black market.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has warned this black market is unregulated and carries significant risks such as sexually transmitted infections or genetically inherited disorders, according to The Sunday Times.
A fifth of NHS fertility services have had to stop collecting samples from donors due to the pandemic, says the HFEA.
It also said private clinics are recording a fall in the number of donors.
Donors have also said they’ve had a surge for sperm requests since the start of the pandemic. Some said revealing they’ve donated as many as 10 samples since March 2020.
Bradley White, 36, a father-of-six from Northampton, said he received up to 40 requests for his sperm in the last year.
He said he has given his samples for free and provided STI checks, but claimed other men were charging hundreds of pounds for their samples.
Explaining why some couples and women were turning to Facebook, he said: “The cost at donor banks is astronomical and with the pandemic a lot of it has stopped.”
Another donor, operating under the pseudonym Abdul, said he registered with a London fertility clinic but decided to do it on social media instead because there was a lot of “red tape” around official donation proceedings.
Oxford Fertility, a private clinic, has said its number of available donors had fallen by 66% since last March.
Tim Child, its medical director, said the clinic is still treating patients using sperm donations, but that there has been a slowdown in recruitment.
This means several couples have been put on growing waiting lists – increasing the number of people turning to social media.
Groups such as Get Pregnant For Free, Sperm Donor UK or matching website Co-parent Match have now popped up online.
However, experts have warned these aren’t regulated and women using them could be in danger if men could try to coerce them into having sex upon meeting.
Ever since 2005, children conceived through sperm donation have been able to contact their biological fathers if they want to from age 18. A donor is only allowed to donate 10 times.
Donors aren’t legally able to be paid, other than expenses, which usually amounts to £35.
Sperm important from overseas can cost from £600 per 0.5ml for completely anonymous donations. This can can reach £1,300 for families to know more about the donor.
More than 7,000 samples are imported from overseas each year – with Brexit creating small delays in delivery.