Internet sperm may sound like some weird MythBusters episode, but it’s a very real issue here in the U.S. and in other areas of the world. Last year, in a first time ever court case, two UK men, Nigel Woodforth and Ricky Gage, were convicted of providing online sperm without a license, reportedly making £250,000 from women while doing so. The men, who got suspended jail sentences, had zero licenses allowing them to sell sperm. Too bad for them, because a license is required under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The defendants claimed they did not need a license as they acted only as an introduction database, however, according to the Guardian, their website did offer women a “life-changing opportunity towards motherhood.” It’s not just the UK though. According to Canada.com, women are so desperate to have children that many have turned to unregulated, and possible illegal internet sperm. In fact, Canada.com points out that Co-ParentMatch.com and FeelingBroody.com, sites where people can shop for sperm, are so popular that they’re getting more than two million hits each month. Members of sites such as these pay monthly subscription fees for the privilege of looking for sperm. If so many people are using these sites, they must be safe right? Is unregulated internet sperm a super risky way to get pregnant or a grand plan?
Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Why search for sperm on the web?
According to reports, the main reasons women turn to unregulated “sperm clinic” websites include rising sperm clinic costs and sperm shortages at such sperm banks. There’s also a question of too much sperm from too few men. For example, a September 2011 story at the New York Times reported that some sperm banks’ create 100-kid clusters around a single donor, creating a real risk of disease and the risk of their potential children later meeting and to put it bluntly, hooking up, resulting in possible future babies born of accidental incest. Additionally, Newsweek points out that even though sperm banks are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sperm from these banks may still carry health risks. For example, Newsweek notes that journals and medical reports show that in recent years sperm carrying a host of serious diseases and disorders has been sold to hundreds of women and ABC News found at least 24 donor-children who were fathered by men with a rare and deadly aorta defect.
The Risks of Internet Sperm
Still, even with the costs and drama of official sperm banks you have to seriously consider the risks of Internet sperm as well. Two of the biggest concerns for women are disease and safety. Unregulated internet sperm sites can’t guarantee basic health safeguards against sexually transmitted infections or HIV. Additionally, sometimes men involved with these sites tell women that, “natural insemination” (i.e. no-strings attached, unprotected sex) will better result in a baby than insemination and although basic insemination does work some women fall for the, “Let’s have sex” line. Obviously, women need to realize how incredibly dangerous heading off alone to have unprotected sex with a stranger can be. The consequences of this could be deadly on many levels. On top of that, while internet sperm advocates say that their prices are cheaper than sperm banks, you can still wrack up a host of fees while searching for internet sperm. Lastly, if you pick up sperm online, you’re floating in some murky legal territory, with zero safeguards in place to protect you and your eventual child from custody battles and other legal nonsense.
Because of the risks, last year, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced that they’re launching an investigation into “unethical” fertility websites. Other health organizations, such as Health Canada and the FDA have strict stances and policies on using official sperm banks vs. Internet sperm.
If you are considering artificial insemination, you should discuss the issue with your doctor to learn more about reputable sperm banks in your area. After your doctor recommends a decent sperm bank,you should still do your own research to learn about the safety procedures in place to protect you from STD infections and find out how they work out legal issues related to the father’s rights. In the U.S., the FDA regulates all sperm bank clinics and you can locate a registered list of clinics at the FDA website.
What do you think? Is Internet sperm a safe way to go? Tell us in the comments.
Lead image by jeinny via sxc.