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Sperm bank denies lower requirements

By WANG XIAODONG in Beijing and SHI BAOYIN in Zhengzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-17 08:08

Implementation of universal two-child policy has led to rise in demand for donors

A sperm bank in Henan province has denied that it has dropped its education and height requirements for potential donors, despite a chronic shortage of supply.

"The standards required for donors remain the same," said Hu Yaolong, a chief tester at Henan Sperm Bank in Zhengzhou. "In addition to health requirements, donors must have at least a junior college degree and be 1.65 meters tall."

Some media outlets have reported that the number of donors and the quality of sperm donated in Henan has fallen, lowering reserves and leading the sperm bank to reduce its standards to bring more men through the door.

Hu said the adoption of the universal two-child policy has left the bank facing a wider gap between supply and demand, but added that standards had not changed. However, the bank devised new incentives, he said, such as increasing the amount it pays donors to about 5,000 yuan ($727).

"It may not be a big amount in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, but it is a big amount in Henan, and I think it will attract more donors," Hu said.

"In addition, donors can have their sperm preserved for 30 years, free of charge, so in the future they could use it for in vitro fertilization, if necessary."

Requirements for donors in Henan, one of the most populous provinces in China, are strict in order to attract qualified people, like college students, Hu said.

"College students are stable and can stay in the same place for years," he said. "This meets our requirement for donation, because a donor usually needs to make 10 donations to complete the whole process, and this could take up to half a year."

Donors must meet other requirements, too, including being of Chinese nationality, having no infectious or hereditary diseases, no bad habits such as smoking or drinking, and be aged between 22 and 45.

"The supply and demand for sperm has remained largely balanced in recent years," Hu said. "But the shortage has been worsening since the universal two-child policy, as more older couples are seeking IVF to have a second child."

More than 90 million couples were made eligible to have a second child with the new family planning policy, which was adopted at the beginning of the year. More than half of the newly eligible women are 40 years old or older, a demographic that has higher pregnancy risks, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Many sperm banks are facing a shortage of qualified donors. Peking University Third Hospital, a top hospital in assisted reproductive technology, also offers 5,000 yuan to suitable donors.

A decrease in the quality of sperm has caused many banks struggle to find sufficient supplies, experts said.

The Henan Sperm Bank had 2,028 donors between January and mid-November, but only 20.8 percent passed the sperm quality test.

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