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father and daughter
father and daughter

Shortage in Sperm Banks During Pandemic

We’re probably living in the weirdest months of the 21st century. However, that doesn’t deter people from bringing new life into this crazy world. In fact, they want new life now more than ever.

According to The New York Times, sperm banks have seen a record-breaking increase in demand over the past several months. And in retrospect, I have to say that despite all the apparent difficulties, this is absolutely the best time to have a baby.

I was 8 months pregnant when the lockdown started. My mom’s flight from Spain was canceled and so was my parents-in-law’s. My husband and I were torn between worried and relieved about not having our mothers around (we both have very opinionated moms that can be intense sometimes) but since we had no other choice, we embraced the first challenging weeks with our newborn with no external help whatsoever. And what initially was going to be just a few weeks of lockdown, quickly turned into months…

I returned to work 6 weeks later, but due to the pandemic, I was working remotely. My husband, who was working from home too, got into a schedule where we would take turns taking care of the baby and work simultaneously, and despite an initial adjustment and sometimes my baby making a cameo during my Zoom interviews, we were pros at “working while parenting.” Without even realizing it, 8 months had passed during which our son didn’t have to go to daycare or even have a nanny.

So I understand why so many parents are eager to have babies now; however, the pandemic comes with its own set of challenges. For instance: not having family or friends around when you need them (and believe me there are times where you DO need help), or not being able to take your baby for walks without having a panic attack every time someone walks by without a mask, or the thought that you better not get sick or into an accident because ER rooms are jammed – not to mention, uncertainty on the job landscape.

So I don’t know what to tell to all these people who want to have babies now. I guess, like everything in life, it has its bright spots as well as its dark side. But, how far are you willing to go to make that happen? In the cases where couples are struggling with fertility or in same-sex marriages and heavily relying on fertility clinics, there is a shortage of sperm because while more people want sperm these days, fewer are donating it, leaving many prospective parents trying to get their sperm fix elsewhere — namely, the internet.

Enter the “sperm kings,” as the Times’ Nellie Bowles has dubbed them. These are men donating their sperm, largely free of charge, through online networks. You can find them in massive Facebook groups like Sperm Donation USA. Is this an altruistic move for helpless parents? Not really. Some have narcissistic motifs – they want to spread their genes without the burden of parenthood. “I have this vision of me being in my 50s and 60s, and I have a large dining table, and I’m inviting all my donor kids to join me for dinner,” one popular donor told the Times. Others, want to do it for the “natural insemination” process; in other words, for sex. So there is a blurry line between altruism and kinkiness…

Besides, when you rely on the internet donors as opposed to the ones you would find in a clinic, you don’t really know the medical history of the person. Maybe they are not fit mentally (which, after reading some of their comments, I’m kind of worried that’s the case with many of them) or they have STD’s. Clinics also offer you total discretion; you never know who your donor is and the donor doesn’t know where his “seed ends up flourishing,” so they can’t just show up at your house one day and decide to be a father.

Bottom line, think twice before going off the rails to get sperm. Maybe waiting a little bit until things smooth out is not a bad idea…

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