ThinkChina Analysis: Banking on the Future: Everything you always wanted to know about sperm donation in China
In recent times, China has gone from being a country trying to minimize the number of births in order to support the economic development, to now being characterized by an alarmingly low fertility rate, affecting not only the lives of the individuals, but also the state of the country as a whole. In this analysis, professor Ayo Wahlberg sums up everything you always wanted – and needed – to know about sperm donation in China. Factors such as pollution, lifestyle changes and the aftermath of the one-child policy have all contributed to the current situation, where China has experienced a dramatic drop in fertility. The condition is now so severe, that it is commonly referred to as a “sperm crisis” - a crisis in which two sides challenges the outcome; the sperm banks seeking more donors to alleviate the lack of donor sperm, and on the other side, the uncommonly high standards and demands for a quality donor, in regard to not only health, youth, and intelligence, but also an exceptional liveliness of a donor’s sperm.
- The “sperm crisis” of rising infertility rates has become a scientific assumption in China, and a pretext for how sperm banks approach donors and clients.
- The possible causes of this “crisis” are lifestyle changes, toxic effects of environmental pollution, as well as the social impact of the one child policy.
- Sperm banking in China is today used not only to help involuntarily childless couples conceive, but also to prevent or promote the birth of certain kinds of children.
- Banks face chronic sperm shortages, and even when they manage to bring in potential donors, most of them are disqualified in the screening process.
This analysis is an edited extract from the book ”Good Quality – the Routinization of Sperm Banking in China.” first published in 2018.
About: Ayo Wahlberg
Ayo Wahlberg is an associate professor at the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen.
Wahlberg's research focus on health and medicine - evolving around the notion of "quality of life". He has previously been engaged in the study of infertility and selective reproductive technologies working at a Chinese infertility clinic, as well as traditional herbal medicine and its modern usage.
Wahlberg is currently working on the project VITAL (2015-2021), investigating how "quality of life" is assembled, mobilised, negotiated and practiced by patients, relatives and health care professionals for the chronically ill.