Ms Taylor also mapped the online sperm donation sites, finding that there are over 350,000 potential recipients on over 60 English-speaking connection websites and social media groups around the world. Online sperm donation falls outside of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) regulatory control, and yet this market dwarfs the clinical route to sperm donation.

The new ESRC-funded research will involve two main stages: firstly, the team will explore the interpersonal relationships at the heart of online sperm donation that occurs via connection websites and social media groups. This includes research with people receiving sperm, people donating sperm, their life partners - if they have one – online site users, and site owners. From the results, the researchers will create a set of comics and drawings to illustrate people’s experiences of online sperm donation.

In the second stage, people involved in online sperm donation will be invited to workshops to reflect on the comics and drawings. They will explore their ideal futures for online sperm donation – and work with the research team to develop an agenda for change. Key parts of this agenda will then be put into action together - for example, this could include producing a public awareness and information campaign, advocating for changes in the law, or better informing support services.

Dr Turner-Moore explained: “We want the project to be led by those who are actively involved in online sperm donation – we recognise them as experts through their experiences and want to listen to what they have to say and work with them to implement the changes that they think are important.”

For more information, please visit the project website and follow the team on Twitter.