In Depth

Why British women are opting for Danish sperm

New government data shows Scandinavian semen is top choice among women looking to get pregnant

British women buying sperm for artificial insemination prefer donors from Denmark, new government data reveals. 

A paper from the Department of Health and Social Care shows that Danish semen now makes up almost half of all non-British male reproductive material imported into the UK.

Last year, around 3,000 samples were sent to the UK from the Scandinavian nation, “with women paying around £460 per laboratory issue ‘straw’ ,though the costs of a donor-assisted baby soar if IVF is involved”, reports the Daily Mail.

“Ten years ago, heterosexual couples were our main clients,” says Peter Reeslev, CEO of sperm bank Cryos, which sends Danish sperm all over the world. “Then it shifted a little, and we were seeing more gay couples. Now it is the single mothers, women who are going it alone.”

Why are women not choosing British men?

The “viking baby invasion”, as it has become known, “didn’t start until 2005 changes in law banned sperm donors from being anonymous in Britain, which led to a rapid decline in British sperm donors”, says Metro.

In 2015, the BBC reported that just nine men had registered as sperm donors, a year after the opening of Britain’s national sperm bank. The bank, based in Birmingham, closed in 2016.

More recently there has been a slight uptick in the British take-up of donations, but “despite the statistics showing growing numbers of national donors, British men are still culturally more resistant to sperm banks than the Danish are”, says Wired.

But why Danish?

Professor Allan Pacey, head of andrology for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, told Wired that the historical link between the UK and Denmark is a plus mark for many patients.

“There are other sperm banks around the world that the British could use, but there is a viking connection with Denmark that people warm to,” he says.

The large number of Danish applicants for sperm donation is another factor. As Amanda Tinker, a British woman who used a Danish sperm donor to have her baby, told the Mail: “Scandinavians have a healthier attitude to sex and procreation. They see it as honourable.” 

Scandinavians are also much lauded for their looks, which may be a draw. “They are a good-looking bunch,” says Tinker. But “they are not all Alexander Skarsgard”, she adds, referencing the popular Swedish actor.

Ultimately, says Pacey, the sheer range of Danish men signing up to donate is key, offering buyers an an unparalleled variety of profiles from which to choose.

“Until recently, couples looking for sperm donors were mostly heterosexual, and their priority was to find someone who matched the putative father’s main characteristics – blood type or height, for example,” he explains.

“This all changed as single women and same-sex couples, for whom this is not relevant, increasingly started conceiving through sperm banks. The choice of donor is now more based on the desirable characteristics that the patients might want to see in their child.”

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