If you read the news this weekend, it was easy to believe that sperm-ageddon had arrived in Britain. According to a BBC report published Friday, the UK is facing a "major sperm shortage" after donors lost their right to anonymity in 2005. Media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic soon picked the story up, including Time, the Daily Mirror, The Independent and johnny-come-latelies Gawker and Jezebel.
But a review of British donor statistics tells a different, far stickier story—one where it's never been easier to get a pint of warm British spunk. According to data from HFEA, the UK's fertility treatment regulator, the number of new sperm donors registered each year has steadily gone up since the rule change while patients seeking donor insemination have fallen by almost a third.
HFEA spokesperson Juliet Tizzard confirmed the trend to Gawker, saying, "Yes, the donor registration rate is going up." Tizzard characterized reports of sperm demand in the UK outstripping supply as being "quite patchy" and the result of individual clinics struggling with donor recruitment. Pip Morris of Britain's National Gamete Donation Trust also acknowledged enrollment rates had increased in the last decade, but added "we still need more sperm donors in the UK."
The inspiration for the BBC's counterfactual report seems to have been a willful misreading of this table showing a gradual rise in both British and overseas donor enrollment since 2005. Unfortunately, the latest figures are from four years ago, but if those trends continued, it's likely Britain long ago reached the estimated 500 donors it needs to meet domestic dick juice demand.