Black Sperm Donor Shortage Causing Black Women to Look Elsewhere
It’s hard to imagine what you don’t see, which is why representation and spreading the word on sperm donation matters. The shortage of Black donors at sperm banks across the nation is forcing Black women to choose a donor of another race — and to pursue other possibly fewer safe avenues. If they hope to have a chance at motherhood, there options are limited.
Cryobanks report that the number of Black women seeking their services to conceive soared sharply during the pandemic after increasing steadily over the years.
Black women between the ages of 35 and 45 are far more likely to remain unmarried than women from other racial groups, according to the latest Census data, with 44 percent of non-Hispanic Black women unmarried, compared to 16 percent of White women. Yet, Black sperm donors represent just a fraction of available supply, which is less than 2 percent at the country’s four largest sperm banks, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
The Shortage on Black Sperm Donor
The severe shortage is forcing Black women who need donor sperm to choose another donor of another race and raise a biracial child or try to buy sperm from unregulated services.
The reasons for the shortage are innumerable — failure among cryobanks to recruit Black donors and a demanding selection process.
According to the Genetic Literacy Project, the Black sperm donor shortage is also attributed to the fact that only one in every 1,000 applicants (of all races) makes it through the screening process that includes semen analysis, an extensive, three-generation medical history, infectious-disease testing, and a criminal background check. Donors with felony convictions are excluded from the selection process.
The Dreaded Wait for Black Women
At California Cryobank, the waiting list for a white donor is typically three months, while for a Black donor it can be up to 18 months. So, what can be done? How can we remove the barriers to growing a more diverse sperm donor database?
“We continue to work hard to recruit more Black donors,” stated Morgan Barker, senior marketing manager at Fairfax Cryobank, said in an emailed statement The Post reports. “There are several in the pipeline who should be available at the beginning of next year and a few more are in the screening process.”
The shortage of Black sperm donors at the more than 20 cryobanks in the country is so severe that some Black women are turning to close male friends and online groups to buy semen. However, some advise caution in these situations.
“Proper screening isn’t getting done when you go private. Intended recipients and donors need to make sure they aren’t carrying the same recessive mutations or same genetic issues that could manifest in the child,” said Richard Vaughn, an attorney specializing in fertility law. “When people work through licensed sperm banks, there’s a system of checks and balances and medical screening.”