Sperm banks’ above average requirements

China is calling for sperm donors but they can’t be just any ordinary men.

A requirement that a donor’s sperm count must be three times that of “the average healthy male” by World Health Organisation standards means 80 per cent of men fail to make the grade, the China Daily newspaper reported.

Some banks also prefer donors to be at least 1.7m tall and hold a college degree, traits, the paper says, are priorities for most couples considering IVF treatment.

Other factors contributing to the sperm shortage are the fact men can donate only once – between the age of 22 and 45 – and that homosexuals and foreigners are not allowed to donate at all.

But one of the biggest obstacles to filling the nation’s sperm banks is the stigma attached to making a donation.

Wang Jian, described as an athletic and intelligent young man, told the China Daily he kept his donation a secret from his family and girlfriend because they “will kill me for letting a stranger use the precious family seed”.

But he proud of being told his sample was excellent. “I’m very honoured,” he said.

“Sperm banks want only quality donations like mine.”

The chief consultant at Beijing’s only sperm bank, Chen Zhenwen, blamed the low number of men meeting the required sperm count on “modern lifestyles, including spending long hours behind the wheel and in front of computer screens”.

Chen said the banks did not pay for sperm but covered the cost of transport and “the donor’s hard work”.

The real hard part, though, seems to be making the grade. As Chen says: “I wish there were more like Wang Jian.”

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