Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has been around in the US since 1981 helping women to become pregnant, with in vitro fertilization (IVF) as the most common method. Even though IVF is the most common, it is not cheap and easy. There are 5 steps required for IVF: stimulation, egg retrieval, insemination/fertilzation, embryo culture, and embryo transer (read the link above for more info). In addition to these 5 steps, IVF requires quite a bit of time, physical/mental commitment, hormone therapy, money, and uncertainty. Depending on age of the woman, the chance of giving birth to a live baby range from 13% to 43% and can cost as much as $17,000 per cycle. Even with the high costs , required dedication, and uncertainty, the highest rate of ART was seen in 2012. A total of 165,172 procedures were performed, resulting in 61,740 births.
Although many women have resorted to ART and IVF to become pregnant, many are starting to turn to an alternative method—and his name is Ed. Ed Houben is known as Europe’s most virile man after fathering 98 children in 12 years. Now when I first heard this was I shocked, in awe, and also slightly disgusted. But after reading a bit further into the article, I also saw it as good-hearted. Ed helps single women, lesbian couples, and heterosexual couples with fertility issues have children free of charge—a huge difference from the alternative if ART. He is a “charitable sperm donor”. Now I know you’re thinking that he is surely getting benefits out of this which is why he’s not charging. I mean a single man getting to sleep with a bunch women? But instead the women are coming to him since he has an 80 percent success rate for conceiving; He certainly doesn’t “fire blanks”.
But it’s really not all fun and games. All participants are required to submit medical records proving they are free of disease and drug abuse. Ed also keeps a log of all of his offspring, so in the future if one of his children meets someone else who doesn’t know who their father is, they can refer to his list to ensure they aren’t related. Additionally, Ed, having to rely on good faith, runs the risk of his partners filing legal claims for child support.
Although Ed is certainly one of the most popular, he is not the only “charitable sperm donor”. There are websites, much like today’s OkCupid, dedicated to creating connections for those women seeking assistance with becoming pregnant and those wanting to help. Spermaspender.de is Germany’s version of such a site. Considering how much of our society is turning to the virtual world to shop for grocerys, stay in touch with friends/family, and find possible husbands or wives, etc. are we entering a new age of using the virtual world to solve some women’s issues with being able to conceive?