Guys should freeze sperm at 18, says bioethicist

Frozen sperm stored at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York is displayed.

Frozen sperm stored at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York is displayed.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

When men are young and full of ... life, they should freeze some sperm for later use, a British bioethicist argues. Dr. Kevin Smith says the risks associated with older fathers—studies have pointed to higher rates of autism and a range of other mental disorders—are enough of a problem that the government should consider setting up a state-supported sperm bank where men can deposit their swimmers at 18 and come back for them if they decide to father a child in their 40s or later.

"It's time we took seriously the issue of paternal age and its effect on the next generation of children," Smith tells the BBC, which notes that private sperm banking costs around $300 a year, but also that the UK's National Health Service could probably bring costs down considerably.

Fertility experts, however, tell the BBC that the suggestion is "ridiculous" for several reasons, including the fact that the risks associated with older fathers are "really quite small," and the fact that most men's sperm doesn't freeze all that well.

The chairman of the British Fertility Society tells the BBC that a national sperm bank isn't needed because it not only provides "a very artificial approach to procreation, but also a false sense of security as the technology does not guarantee a baby." In a paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Smith says "health education to promote earlier fatherhood" and "incentives for young sperm donors" should also be considered.

(Another study warns that pesticides could be killing our sperm.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Bioethicist: Men Should Freeze Sperm at 18

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