by Zoe Pollock
Why is US sperm so popular? It’s not about the superior fitness of American males, exactly. One reason is that the US’s immigration history means lots of ethnic diversity. For some would-be mothers from other parts of the world, this can give US product a leg up over places like Denmark, another sperm exporting powerhouse. Another is all that tracking and testing: the U.S. has some of the world’s highest standards for disease testing and donor screening. The FDA defines sperm as human tissue, and regulates it much as it does the donation of organs.
Paying anonymous donors has also helped:
Unlike many countries, the US allows men to donate anonymously and to be paid for doing so, leading to a comparatively larger donor pool; sperm donations in other countries plummeted following laws prohibiting anonymous donation or payment. After Britain ended anonymity for sperm donors in 2005, the wait for sperm could take years — in part because fewer men agreed to share their sperm with multiple women or with women they didn’t know personally. In Canada, concerns about the commercialization of human reproduction led to a ban on paying donors in 2005; by 2011 a single sperm bank with 35 active donors made up the entire national supply, according to the Toronto magazine The Grid. (In contrast, [Seattle Sperm Bank] alone has more than 140 active donors). Today, more than 90 percent of donor sperm used in Canada is imported from the US.