If you aren’t willing or able to get knocked up the old-fashioned way, getting pregnant can be seriously expensive. As someone who struggles with infertility, I am acutely aware of that fact. Here in the US, the average adoption costs between $25,000 and $35,000. A single round of in vitro fertilization is about $12,000. Basically, if you’re looking for help building your family, you better have quite a healthy bank account at your disposal.
However, one woman is fighting against a specific cost in the fertility process. A San Francisco-area woman is suing over the regulations and costs of sperm donation. She says that they present a costly and burdensome barrier between same-sex or single women who want to get pregnant. If you can go find a partner in a bar without testing his health, why should you have to screen your sperm donors, she argues.
One of the smaller costs in the grand scheme of conceiving children with the help of fertility clinics is that of any donated sperm you might need to purchase. The testing a man has to go through to donate sperm can cost as much as $800, and he must be tested within a week of making his donation.
Who set those guidelines? The FDA does. And actually, the Food & Drug Administration sets more than a couple rules about the donation of bodily fluids, such as sperm. They do so to help protect the health of the women who are choosing to get pregnant using alternative means such as IUI or IVF. And when I look at antics of some, like Trent Arsenault who is sending sperm free to anyone with an internet connection and fathering potentially unlimited numbers of children who won’t know they’re related, I’m pretty happy we do.
There’s a reason that an industry like sperm donation is regulated. If you don’t see it, just ask one of 600 possible siblings fathered by a doctor who routinely used his own semen to impregnate the patients of his fertility clinic in Great Britain. That’s a lot of half-siblings who have the potential to meet and even date without realizing that they were fathered by the same man.
Likewise, considering the fact that men are often paid for donating sperm, it’s important to ensure that they aren’t ignoring potential health risks simply to get some extra cash. And there’s always the possibility that they don’t know about an STI or medical issue. There are simply too many chances to take.
I realize that running tests on every man to donate sperm adds extra cost to the price of getting pregnant. I know, it would be so much easier to get drunk and head home with some guy at a bar. But the people who are seeking help from a fertility clinic don’t want to do that. They’re putting a lot of time and effort into having kids, and I would assume that they want to give those children the best possible chance for the future. That includes carefully screening the men who provide the other half of your children’ genetic code.
I don’t want to set up barriers for women who are looking to have kids. I’ve been trying myself for over two years and I know how difficult it is. But I think the regulations that we have in place about sperm donation were put there to protect the women who are trying to get pregnant. I think they serve a purpose for us and our potential families. And really, I don’t think that the FDA should ease up on this front any time soon, even if it does cost a little extra.