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Health risks as women seek sperm donors on their own

Published söndag 14 december 2014 kl 13.23
Tro det eller ej - 50 procent av dem som bajsar är kvinnor. Arkivbild: Ulla Öhman/Sveriges Radio.
A bathroom unrelated to the one mentioned in the article. File photo: Ulla Öhman/Sveriges Radio.

Frustrations with the public system for artificial insemination have given rise to a private, unregulated market for sperm donors, reports Swedish Radio's program Kaliber.

Kaliber interviewed one woman who found a sperm donor online and arranged their exchange at a public bathroom. The report describes how the man went into one of the bathroom stalls and then handed over a jar of sperm, which she immediately used to inseminate herself with a little plastic syringe. This happened eight times over the course of four months until the woman got pregnant.

She had no information about the health of the donor, not to mention his name or age, because he wanted to be 100 percent anonymous.

"It's a risk that I was prepared to expose myself to," she said, "because that was the only way to have a child. If I hadn't exposed myself to this risk, I would not have had this wonderful boy today."

Ann Thurin Kjellberg, a supervising doctor at the department for reproductive medicine at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, called this "totally incomprehensible."

Kjellberg told Kaliber she's extremely surprised women can imagine making contact with someone online and inseminating themselves without having checked if they have illnesses.

When women operate within the health care system, a donor's sperm is first checked carefully for different venereal diseases, including HIV, and for hereditary and chronic illnesses.

However, between the long waiting times and the different tests a woman has to undergo for insemination, going through the public system can take up to a couple of years, and women only get six tries. Not only that, but single women are not eligible for the service at all. While there is a proposal to make it available from July of next year, it has not yet been passed by Parliament, which leaves single women the option of seeking out treatment on their own, going to places like Denmark, for example, which can cost tens of thousands of kronor.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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