The United States is the largest producer of human sperm in the world, accounting for 65% of global supply.
There are over 500 sperm banks in the United States — and they’re all for-profit companies. Their motives may be rooted in a desire to help, but ultimately, they’re in business to make money.
There is one exception: The Sperm Bank of California. They’re a queer-friendly not-for-profit sperm bank that evolved out of a woman-centred health care facility.
I recently chatted with TSBC’s executive director Alice Ruby about their not-for-profit focus and their approach to building families.
Have a listen.
At 2:18, Alice talks about The Sperm Bank of California’s pro-woman and queer-friendly roots:
“We started specifically to provide services for lesbians and single women who were denied access elsewhere, although we’ve always served all women—and now all individuals. We’re seeing an increasing number of trans clients—who are trying to achieve pregnancy.”
Starting at 9:03, she explains why sperm banks cost as much as they do:
“A sperm bank is really more of a service than a product. And what I mean by that is it’s very personnel-intensive. There’s lots of interviews with the donors, there’s lots of reviewing of results and paperwork. And so our personnel costs are actually our largest expense item… One expense that people may not be aware of is the cost of screening men who we don’t accept into the program. Roughly 1 to 5% of the men to apply are accepted.That’s a pretty small percentage.”
And at 16:24, Alice offers some advice for queer people trying to decide which sperm bank to use:
“Trying to conceive using a sperm bank means taking genetic material from someone you do not know into your body with the intention of creating a human being.It can be a very stressful process and finding a program that has policies and people who you trust and who you feel comfortable with can make that process a lot easier.”
Along the way, we cover myths about gay sperm donors, how TSBC finds its sperm donors, TSBC’s research program, and more.
What has been your experience choosing or using a sperm bank? I’d love to hear your story.