April 24, 2024

Chinese clinics advertise for sperm donors

But donation goes against strong cultural prejudices

Chinese IVF centres are offering better and bigger rewards as they are failing to recruit enough sperm donors. According to the New York Times, men between 20 and 45 are being offered as much as US$1000 and deluxe iPhones for their contributions.

After decades of a one-child policy, China faces a demographic crisis, with an ageing population and a contracting workforce. Couples are now legally able to have a second child, but many of them have fertility problems. Ironically, it seems, China does not have enough people. The Times observes that clinics are trying all sorts of strategies:  

Some sperm banks have tried to appeal to feelings of patriotism, as China grapples with an aging population and a diminishing work force. “Show your compassion,” an article on a state-run news site urged men this year. “Help mitigate the country’s aging problem.”

Appeals to civic pride and altruism have not helped either:

Recent ads have tried to counter those deep-seated attitudes. “Donating sperm and donating blood are the same thing,” said one message from a Beijing sperm bank. “It’s all about giving back to society.”

There are many reasons for the shortage, according to a 2011 study in a Chinese journal. Culturally, men are reluctant because they fear losing their virility. Medically, nearly half of donor applicants are disqualified because they have a sexually-transmitted disease. Furthermore, China limits the number of pregnancies for each donor to 5. In the US, the recommended limit is 25 and in the UK 10. Therefore, more donors are needed than in Western countries in proportion to the population. 

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