Fertility clinics in the Scandinavian country are running dry of sperm donations as potential donors avoided hospitals since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The shortage has resulted in waiting times of up to 30 months for those who are seeking assisted pregnancy treatment.
“We’re running out of sperm,” Gothenburg University Hospital reproduction unit head Ann Thurin Kjellberg told Reuters. “We’ve never had so few donors as during the last year.”
With this, different Swedish regions reportedly took to social media, and soon on national TV, to encourage potential male donors.
According to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Sweden is among the countries (including most Nordic countries and Belgium) that have the highest assisted conception rates in the world.
Assisted pregnancy treatment is reportedly free within Sweden’s national health service but private clinics that are able to buy sperm from abroad charges up to 100,000 Swedish crowns (about P570,000), which makes it inaccessible to many.
But the country implements strict policies when it comes to sperm donation, with a sperm sample only allowed to be used by a maximum of six women.
Margareta Kitlinski, a senior consultant at the Skane University Hospital’s center for reproductive medicine told Reuters that it takes around eight months to process a donor because of the many tests donations entail. For a particular number of men that will line up to donate their sperm, Kitlinski said only half of them could be donors.
The past week, Sweden, which has opted against strict lockdowns and chose to keep businesses widely open with some restrictions, has the highest new COVID cases per person in Europe. This means, it could take some time before donations start to pick up again.