Now there's a number we weren't expecting...
We don’t know about you, but we were pretty surprised at Marie Claire HQ when we learned that our national UK sperm bank only has nine registered sperm donors a year after it opened in Birmingham. Nine?
It’s a stark number when you consider the sperm bank was created to address dwindling numbers in the first place. According to the Independent, a recent Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority report revealed that in 2013, the number of UK donors fell to 400 over 12 months.
Now the national sperm bank’s chief executive, Laura Witjens, is urging men to ‘prove their worth’ and is even planning a recruitment drive to radically increase numbers.
Speaking to the Guardian she said: ‘If I advertised saying ‘Men, prove your worth, show me how good you are’, then I would get hundreds of donors.
‘That’s the way the Danish do it. They proudly say, this is the Viking invasion, exports from Denmark are beer, Lego and sperm. It’s a source of pride.’
She went on to warn, however: ‘It will take five years for the scheme to take off and greater publicity is key to its success.
‘If 100 guys enquire, 10 will come through for screenings and maybe one becomes a donor. It takes hundreds of guys.’
So, what is stopping more men coming forward? One potential hurdle is that men must visit the clinic twice a week for four months and refrain from sex or masturbation for two days prior to their visit. Quite a commitment.
Another issue to consider is the lack of anonymity. Children born as the result of sperm donation from 2005 now have the right to know the identity of their father when they turn 18 years old.
There’s one more obstacle: Not all sperm can survive the freezing and thawing process.
Which begs the question: are enough British men likely to follow their Danish counterparts and donate? Or are we asking too much?
Only time will tell if this latest marketing push will make a vital difference here in the UK.