Bioethics News

The growing sperm bank industry

The sperm bank industry has been rapidly growing with profits to boot, according to an article published in the Financial Times this week.

There are a number of sperm bank clusters around the world, but one of the biggest is in Denmark, where sperm bank companies turn over huge profits each year in exchange for providing women from around the world with the opportunity to bear children.

Danish sperm banks earned US$152 million in 2012 alone, according to the consultancy Copenhagen Economics. The multinational giant Cryos International has its headquarters in Demark.

Sperm banks around the world have been thriving due to certain sociological trends, such as the “delayer boom” — the trend for women to put off having children until they reach an age at which their fertility is reduced — and the growing acceptance in many western societies of single-parent or same-sex families.

Most sperm donors chose to remain anonymous, and are paid nominal amounts for their donation. Sperm is sold at variable prices, depending among other factors on the amount of information available about the donor.

There are, however, concerns about a lack of regulation on sperm being shipped internationally. The number of children born to sperm donors could be much higher than authorities think, as there is no real way of accurately monitoring supply. Cryos and many of its US counterparts ship directly to women’s homes, which means women can self-inseminate and authorities might never find out.

Authorities are also concerned about the number of babies that a sperm donor could potentially father.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.