It states that in the last 30 years in the UK, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of egg and sperm donors.

This is great news for couples and individuals struggling with infertility and for same sex couples and single people who want to start a family and rely on donors todo so.

The report reveals that:

·      Babies born from donor sperm have nearly tripled since 2006

·      Over 70,000 donor conceived children have been born since 1991

However, it also notes that:

·      There is a lack of ethnically diverseUK donors

So, what else has changed in the last 30 years and what does this mean for couples who are struggling to conceive?

Who uses donor eggs or donor sperm and how has this changed in recent years?

JudithChain, Chair of the HFEA said:

“Over time, fertility preservation and treatment techniques have dramatically improved and this, along with changing social attitudes, has led to the birth of over 70,000donor conceived children since 1991.

Younger patients typically use donors for medical reasons such as infertility or to prevent passing down genetic diseases. Meanwhile, for older patients, using a donor can increase their chances of having a baby; this is because a woman’s fertility declines with age, particularly from their mid-30s. A rise in same sex and single people accessing treatment has led to more treatment involving donors.”

Although almost 2,400 children were born in the year 1994 as a result of sperm donation, this number decreased to around 900 in 2006. With the introduction of ICSI, a single sperm can be selected and injected directly into the egg, men with fertility problems were able to use their own sperm, reducing the need for donor sperm.

How do donors vary?

From 2016 to 2020, figures have shown that a disproportionate amount of egg and sperm donation came from White donors. The HFEA stated that:

“About 87% of sperm donors were White and the remaining donors were made up of Asian (7%), Black (3%), Mixed (2%) and Other (2%) ethnic groups.

Asian patients also used egg and sperm donation at lower rates than other ethnic groups. Around 7% of IVF cycles among Asian patients used egg and sperm donation in their treatment, compared to 8% for Other ethnicities and 13-15% for Black, Mixed and White patients. The lower proportion of Asian donors and lower use of donation among Asian ethnicities may be due to cultural and religious factors relating to donation.”

Can you use donor eggs or sperm in NHS funded IVF?

The report states that IVF using donor sperm or eggs were less commonly funded by the NHS. 13% of donor treatments were funded, compared with 40% using their own eggs and sperm.

Why choose a UK licensed clinic?

Choosing a UK licensed clinic provides a greater level of protection from a health and a legal point of view. In licensed clinics, everyone must also be offered counselling, so that they are aware of all of the implications that may arise from their decision to use a donor.

To find out more about donation trends, you can read the full report from the HFEA: ‘Trends in Egg, Sperm and Embryo Donation.’

At the IVF Network, our aim is to help you to be informed and educated, so that you can make the best choices for yourself on your fertility journey. We do this through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts.