Go inside the sperm 'factory' that's supplying the world

Ole Schou is the man in charge of "a kind of factory" where "volume and quality is important" and exports make up 96 percent of the business. But unlike most factories, his doesn't fabricate anything.

At Cryos International, some 1,000 donors are paid $15 to $76 for each deposit—of sperm. Schou, who has created one of the biggest sperm banks in the world in Denmark, turns around and sells a vial for $45 to $1,137, depending on the "potency and donor profiles," as CNN puts it.

Since founding Cryos in 1987, Schou has shipped sperm around the world and says his company is responsible for 27,000 babies. Business is only looking up: The US, UK, China, New Zealand, and Israel are suffering shortages.

The demand is partly due to what the Financial Times calls a "delayer boom," as women are waiting to have kids and may find their fertility is reduced.

"The highest growth comes from single women who make up about 50 percent of demand," Schou says, adding the figure could climb to 70 percent by 2020. Keeping on top of the demand isn't easy, though.

Only 10 percent of donors have sperm that can withstand freezing and storage, and some are turned off by restrictions related to sex, smoking, and drugs while donating.

As for how the sperm gets to women, the Times notes that Cryos (as well as similar US firms) can ship straight to a woman's home, allowing her to self-inseminate.

"The authorities can’t do anything about it,” says Schou. The authorities also can't restrict how many women one man's sperm can go to. There are no regulations, and Schou estimates an average donor at his company will father 25 children. (A woman recently lost a lawsuit over a sperm bank race mix-up.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Inside the Sperm 'Factory' That's Supplying the World

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