Way before I decided I was one and done with children, I paid a visit to my local sperm bank, to inquire about putting five on some premium product. I figured there was no harm in researching all options when it came to reproduction and wanted to see what the process involved. Not that I was concerned with the donor’s sexual orientation, I did notice that it was surprisingly omitted. A potential buyer is supplied with information in regards to their physical appearance, health information, education, ethnic background and occasionally a photo. But it gave no information about sexual orientation. Now, there will be no need for that information because the FDA is enforcing new rules.

Under new FDA guidelines, any man who has engaged in homosexual activities in the last 5 years will not be allowed to anonymously donate sperm. This ban does not affect what is referred to as “directed” gay donors, which means that the woman receiving the sperm is not receiving it anonymously and is already aware that the donor is gay. According to the FDA, gay men pose a higher risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics of this ban have accused the FDA of further stigmatizing gay men, instead of establishing better screening processes for both gay or straight donors.

“Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he’s been celibate for five years,” said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, Calif., that seeks gay sperm donors. Traiman also suggested that testing the sperm for HIV during the initial donation, then freezing it, and testing the donor again after six months to make sure there is no new HIV or other diseases.

Apparently not all sperm banks are created equal and a lot of them don’t test for infectious or genetic diseases, regardless of your sexual orientation. In doing my research for sperm banks, I did notice that Fairfax Cryobank has a policy of testing for various genetic diseases, as well as infectious diseases such as HIV, HPV and Herpes 1 & 2. But they also listed two competitors that did not test for these diseases.

Personally, whether the person is gay or straight, I would only buy a product from a company that routinely tests their donors for genetic and infectious diseases. Many gay rights advocates feel that the policy the FDA is enforcing is more about bigotry than it is science.

Do you feel gay men should have the right to donate sperm?

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  • Dave

    No one “chooses” to be gay any more than one chooses the color of their skin. Sorry, but true. Testing should apply to all. Isn’t that just smart science at work? Good article, Yesha!

    • then please explain “down low” men….

    • Patience

      Being ‘down low’ isn’t about choosing to be gay, but rather hiding that he is bisexual.

  • Downsouth Transplant

    please do the reading one more time from the source article:”The FDA rules do not prohibit gay men from serving as “directed” sperm donors. If a woman wishing to become pregnant knows a gay man and asks that he provide sperm for artificial insemination, a clinic could provide that service even if the man had engaged in sex with other men within five years.”
    This is not the actual FDA guidelines please check out the actual guidelines and it maybe helpful rather than dishing out a secondary opinion as fact please engage more in reading and comprehension/understanding, than trying to be the correct/right one on everything. A good day to you too:)

  • I’m not a proponent of sperm banks as a source of procreation in the first place. And certainly not of anonymous donors. I’d hate for my child to grow up and accidentally sleep with or marry a relative because we don’t know who their father (and subsequently his family members) was.

    I don’t see any scientific merit backing up this ban. I don’t even understand how they plan on enforcing it. Anybody can get up and say that either they aren’t gay or they haven’t had sex in 5 years. Not to mention that every other scientific source has stated over and over again that african american women represent the highest hiv infection rates in the country so how did we flip-flop back to gay men having the highest risk? Or did we just time travel back to 80s?

  • ChiLois

    Sperm banks?…please black people, please.

  • Moni

    Yet another reason NOT to use a sperm bank! From not limiting the number of children each man can have (at least 150 kids from one donor!!! http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/health/06donor.html?pagewanted=all) to not testing for diseases, this is disgusting and unethical on so many levels! I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an increase in rare genetic diseases in the next generation because we’re decreasing the gene pool and increasing the likelihood that someone will marry a close relative unknowingly. Everyone should be tested for STD’s and there should be a strict limit on how many children each donor can father.

    • you are limited to 10 kids. or at least most sperm banks voluntarily enforce that limit…