We Want Your Sperm!
For many people, the dream of having a child becomes a reality through strangers – donors of eggs and sperm, who may never know the children they helped to create. The business of sperm and egg donation in the United States increased by as much as 18 percent between 2003 and 2011.
2010 statistics posted by the National Institutes for Health note that the number of women between the ages of 38 and 45 years has increased by 61 per cent. Overall, the aging of the population and trends toward later marriage and single motherhood have fueled an increasing demand for the use of donor sperm and eggs for midlife efforts to conceive.
Since its beginning in the 1980s, the trade in donated eggs has skyrocketed, with over 150 listings posted per day on popular classified site Craigslist. As the demand for donor eggs increases, so too have ways to find donors and link them with waiting couples.
The word “donor” is a misnomer. Women are paid for their donation, receiving up to $10,000 per donation, with multiple donations allowed. With laws in other countries barring compensation, the United States has become the center of the booming egg business, matching donors with prospective parents through registries and brokerages, and targeting college students burdened by school loans as donors.
Along with egg donation, sperm donations have increased as well in the last decade. Demand by infertile heterosexual couples and lesbian couples has increased, along with an increasing acceptance of single motherhood. New practices and approaches to managing donations have also fueled this trend. Donors may now be either anonymous, or “identified,” so that prospective mothers can browse a directory of donors for photographs and information such as family history, hobbies and preferences. Although the practice of identifying donors has increased, a recent survey of sperm bank clients revealed that a majority (38%) still preferred anonymous donors. However, the number of respondents who intended to let the child decide about having contact with the donor jumped by 29% in a one-year period.
Unlike egg donation, compensation for sperm donation remains low, with compensation starting at around $100 per anonymous donation. However, open donation and a willingness to share personal information and photographs can lead to higher pay. Donors can make multiple donations, with some fathering up to 100 offspring.
As the population ages, new trends in egg and sperm donation provide even more options, particularly in the United States, where the business of donation faces minimal regulation and maximum profits.