A single woman learns how hard it is to buy sperm

Who knew that in the age of instant gratification, buying sperm could be so elusive? Danielle Elliot's journey reveals it might be more complicated than you think. In her Guardian article, Elliot, a 37-year-old single woman, decided to explore sperm donation after a relationship ended. Her journey began with a simple Google search but quickly escalated into a labyrinth of decisions and expenses. With vials priced between $1,200 and $2,500, and additional costs for audio recordings and interviews, the process seemed daunting before she even got to the doctor's office. "I had no idea sperm was such a hot commodity, until I was the one trying to buy it," writes Elliot.

One of the most surprising revelations? Only 4% of men who attempt to donate sperm get approved, thanks to stringent health and lifestyle screenings.

About one in six were rejected for health reasons, about 12% failed a lifestyle screening, and 11% didn't meet sperm quality requirements.

The Fairfax Sperm Bank's website boasts even higher selectivity, approving just one in 200 men.

If men make the cut, they're in for an arduous process involving blood tests and weekly collections. Some banks pay only when sperm is ready to be sold, with payments varying depending on the number of weekly donations and if a person fits in-demand demographics. California Cryobank pays $75 per accepted donation, according to its website. US banks regulate the number of vials of each donor in order to prevent widespread genetic concerns down the line. Some states do not allow anonymity.

All of this limits supply, but there is no movement to loosen protocols.

This scarcity, exacerbated by the pandemic, has driven up prices and left many women in a frantic scramble for viable options. "I'm now 39," writes Elliott. "So far, I've spent $16,723 trying to get pregnant."

Previously: Woman sues sperm bank after becoming pregnant with black donor's sperm