According to a depressing story in the Mirror, more and more women are agreeing to have sex with men who advertise themselves on unregulated websites as “sperm donors” in order to get pregnant quickly and cheaply. It seems that they are taking things into their own hands as using a clinic can be very expensive – and donor insemination is not as successful as intercourse if there are no fertility problems.
It may sound a good idea – cheaper, easier, natural – but it’s fraught with problems which may only emerge in the longer term. When you use a sperm donor at a clinic, they have been thoroughly vetted. Their sperm is tested to make sure that they are fertile, they are screened for genetically inherited illnesses and they are also tested for sexually transmitted infections. In order to make absolutely sure there is no risk of HIV transmission, donor sperm is frozen and the donor re-tested later before it is used. Of course, this costs money – but it also keeps you and your baby safe.
Not only that, there is also a limit on the number of children conceived using any one donor’s sperm in order to prevent too many donor siblings being born. All donors in the UK are now identifiable once a child reaches the age of 18, so that in the future they will be able to find out all that they want to about their genetic father.
Could you bear to sleep with a stranger just to get pregnant? And who are the men who are so eager to donate their sperm this way? The Mirror report addressed this final issue; one man’s ad stating that he would prefer to donate to a woman with a DD bust size said it all really. Another suggested that his sperm count would be increased if the undercover reporter wore a dress and nice underwear when they met for insemination. Of course, some may be acting from a genuine desire to help women who want to have children – but they would do far more good by donating through regulated clinics.
Fertility treatment is often criticised for being hugely over-priced, and I can fully understand how difficult it is when paying seems beyond your means – and the offer of free donation may seem a good option. However, when it’s your future child’s origins that you have in your hands, you need to think carefully about whether this would really be the best way to start a new life.