View Full Version : The Other Banking Crisis, Sperm banks around the globe are in the grips of recession.

12-20-2008, 12:49 AM
Sperm banks around the globe are facing a crippling shortage of inventory. The product of a sperm donor writes on how the industry screwed itself.

It’s the one banking crisis you probably haven’t heard about. The problem isn’t credit, liquidity, or cash. It’s sperm.Sperm banks around the globe are in the grips of recession.

In the U.K., fertility clinics recruited only 60% of the donors they needed to meet demand in 2007, and this year’s showing is no better.
Supplies in France have been falling too, and now Belgium’s reserves are strained because of French “fertility tourists” crossing the border to access that country’s sperm. In China, new ultra-strict donor screening methods have Shanghai’s only sperm bank running so low that it hasn’t accepted new IVF patients in over a year.

And domestic sperm supplies in Canada have dropped to the point that facilities are being forced to import from American clinics—even as American clinics are running dry themselves.

My suspicion is that some of these new regulations have less to do with bioethics than with our increasing expectations as consumers.

This global sperm shortage is unfortunate and unnecessary.

It’s not due to any actual shortage of sperm, but is rather the result of recent crackdown in the sperm banking industry that has placed more and more burdens on those who would like to donate sperm.

In 2004, Canada outlawed cash-for-sperm incentives, which toppled the donation rate and compelled Canadian banks to start relying on imported sperm.

The year after that, the U.S. banned sperm shipped in from Europe because of irrational fears of Mad Cow disease. Suddenly, supplies of Americans’ favorite sperm—tall, blond, blue-eyed Scandinavian stock—are in jeopardy.

But it’s Britain that has adopted one of the most damaging measures:
In 2005, the government enacted a law allowing children to learn the identities of their donor fathers once they turn 18. As a result, Britain’s sperm donations plummeted from over 500 in 1991, to 307 in 2006. The country now relies on foreigners—many of them backpackers passing through—for a third of its supply. But even with contributions from these eager transients, clinics there are rationing.

For me, this issue is personal. I was conceived at one of the few sperm banks operating in the late 1970s, back when most people still considered assisted reproduction a miracle (or a crime against nature.) Thankfully, my parents were willing criminals, or perhaps more accurately, human guinea pigs—my mother especially. She received injections of a drug called Perganol that’s notorious for working too well, leaving surprise quintuplets in its wake. Soon after I was conceived, the clinic was sued over a case much like that. Lawsuits like these were part of the reason many clinics made great effort to keep their donors anonymous.

Attitudes have changed. Many of my donor-conceived peers have begun demanding more information about their biological fathers.
While countries like Australia and Sweden haven’t gone as far as Britain, they have passed laws requiring clinics to track donor information. Earlier this year, a 26-year-old woman filed a class-action lawsuit in Canada to learn the identity of her donor father, prompting the judge to order the clinic to preserve its donor records while the case is decided. Actions like these have created a chilling effect on donations, and the donor shrinkage is now becoming painfully apparent. This is terrible news for people who need assistance getting pregnant.


12-20-2008, 12:51 AM
Sperm banks around the globe are facing a crippling shortage of inventory. The product of a sperm donor writes on how the industry screwed itself.<snip>

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2008-12-19/the-other-banking-crisis/MOO - you are one sick unit. :p