The Sperm Kings have a problem: too much demand

When I started talking to sperm banks last spring, they were already concerned about the supply.

Reliable figures are hard to find in Sperm World. Researchers cite data collected in the 1980s to estimate the number of children born by donor sperm in the United States between 30,000 and 60,000 per year, although advocates are even pushing this range, saying it does not. there are no reliable figures because there are no regulations. . The sperm bank itself was an industry of around $ 4 billion in 2018.

There have always been sterile heterosexual couples in need of donor sperm, but with the legalization of same-sex marriage and the increase in elective single motherhood, the market has grown over the past decade. About 20 percent of sperm bank customers are heterosexual couples, 60 percent are gay women and 20 percent are single mothers by choice, the banks said.

To meet this demand, men have supplied sperm at a steady rate for years, some banks have said. But the coronavirus has changed things. Existing donors were afraid to enter. New donor registrations stalled for months during the lockdown and never really bounced back at some banks. Several banks have said they have a lot of old frozen sperm in stock, but it can only last for a while.

“Recruiting donors is a growing challenge,” said Scott Brown, vice president of strategic alliances for California Cryobank. “And I would definitely say that people are still very interested in having children.”

A lot of people also want smart sperm. This is why some big banks are close to elite colleges. They have semen collection centers in Palo Alto, Calif., Near Stanford University, and in Cambridge, Mass., Near Harvard. College men are one of the most trusted groups to see the potential chaos of possibly creating 50 biological children in the world in exchange for around $ 4,000 over several months – and decide that’s a good one. case.

A donor typically visits a bank once or twice a week for months to produce enough sperm to sell to dozens of families.

“A lot of their recruiting is around fraternities, but fraternities don’t come together,” said Rosanna Hertz, chair of women and gender studies at Wellesley College and co-author of “Random Families,” a book on donor conception. “People want college-trained sperm, so to speak.”

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