People trying to conceive a child could be hit by delays to foreign sperm donations under a no-deal Brexit because of additional red tape, technical papers have revealed.
Danish semen made up almost half of all non-British male reproductive material imported to the UK in 2017, the paper from the Department of Health and Social Care revealed.
Some 3,000 samples from the Scandinavian nation were brought in, alongside a small number from other EU states, plus 4,000 from the United States. It is mainly bought from commercial sperm banks.
But leaving the trade bloc without a deal would see the UK leave the EU Organ Directives and EU Tissues and Cells Directives, which cover material from human sperm, eggs and embryos to transplant organs.
The note adds that egg and embryo imports are less common than sperm, usually fewer than 500 a year, and are ‘mostly from EU countries’.
The paper says: ‘UK licensed establishments working in this area, such as hospitals, stem cell laboratories, tissue banks and fertility clinics, would continue to work to the same quality and safety standards as they did before exit, but some would need new written agreements with relevant EU establishments.
‘UK licensed establishments that import or export tissues or cells from EEA establishments would need to make written agreements with those EEA establishments to continue importing or exporting these products post-exit.
‘However, this will for the most part be a minimum burden on industry. For example, UK licensed establishments that already hold an import licence to import tissues and cells from third countries will be able to use their existing written agreements with third country organisations as a template.’
An independent UK national sperm bank was launched in 2014 but attracted just nine donors in its first year.
A collaboration between the National Gamete Donation Trust and Birmingham Women’s Hospital, it ceased calling for more to join the following year, according to its website.