When you donate at the London Sperm Bank there's a bit of paperwork that needs to be done before you get down to the deed. On this paperwork are the results from all your previous donations, with column headings such as 'Post-thaw motility' and 'Post-thaw progression'. Not knowing exactly what these are and being bored at work I decided to Google them...
As is the way with reading things on the 'net, I ended up going down a rabbit hole and my browser history was filled with too many titles with 'sperm' in it. I had to clear it.
I did eventually learn all I needed to learn (and a bit more about bovine IVF) but it just raised more questions in my head. Specifically: how on earth do you settle on a particular vial of sperm without taking it our for dinner, living with it for a few years and seeing it at its worst after a particularly heavy night out with the boys?
The London Sperm Bank (in association with the London Women's Clinic) was the first UK donation clinic to have an online brochure style website detailing the personal qualities of its sperm donors. It details things like our hobbies, occupation and a lovely little blurb from Toyin on our personality. And you can search by height, education, religion, etc. as well.
This must be a huge step up from the completely anonymous profiles that people were previously presented with but given the difficulty I have in finding a partner on online dating websites, where I'm given a plethora of photos, stats and sales pitches, I still feel sorry for the people who have to choose based on this information!
The US sperm banks tackle this problem a different way. Some of them advertise as only accepting donations from lawyers, bankers, doctors and other 'high grade professions'. Others only accept donors from top-rated universities and from students in the top percentile of their classes. Others brag that "less than 0.05 percent of the men that inquire about being a donor go on to become donors". Plus rather than being anonymous some of the sperm banks are willing to sell you photos of a donor when he was a baby, as this is 'helpful for those who have concerns about how their child might look'. Or how about a photo of the donor when he's an adult? Sure thing buddy that'll be $$$!
This sounds awful! I can just image some high powered business lady in NYC sitting in her immaculate suit and Big Hair trying to decide between Chad, the 6'4" blond ex-A&F-model-now-lawyer, or Brad, the 6'3" Wall St CEO with Amazing Teeth and ohmyjustlookathowcutehisbabyphotois...
It doesn't get any better with the Sperm Stats: I found a US discussion forum with women who are complaining that they're being offered sperm with only 80% post-thaw motility and with post-thaw sperm counts of only 45 million (which is significantly above what my searches suggest is a pre-freeze 'normal male'). But I suppose if you're demanding perfection, you expect perfect sperm too! How else would you be able brag to your lady friends over lunch about the IVF you're going through: 'Oh that's nothing, my sperm was 99.999% motile and had a count of 1.7 BILLION! Plus he's 8' tall and has an IQ in the top 0.0001% of the population! Mwahahaha'.
So maybe less is more when it comes to sperm donation. Choosing a donor based on personality rather than looks and income is certainly much more hand-wavingly-British. And anyway, the sperm is only half of the equation: there's still the egg to consider.
Post written by A London Sperm Bank Donor, A City Professional