Two-child policy puts pressure on sperm banks

A woman and a child walk along a road in Beijing on Oct 31, 2015.
A woman and a child walk along a road in Beijing on Oct 31, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

NANCHANG (China) • China's sperm banks are already facing a dearth of donors, and a government proposal to end the country's decades-old one-child policy may put more pressure on the institutions.

The Communist Party of China Central Committee announced the scrapping of the current one-child policy in a proposal late last month to balance population growth and offset the burden of an ageing population.

According to a report carried this week by the Jiangxi Daily, a growing number of couples with fertility problems have visited local hospitals and sperm banks for consultations since the policy announcement.

Ms Xue Jie, a head nurse with the reproductive centre of a hospital affiliated with the Nanchang Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi province, said a number of couples had come to talk to her about having a second baby with the help of sperm banks.

But the infertility rate is high in China, with statistics released by the China Population Association at the end of 2012 showing 40 million people with fertility issues, accounting for 12.5 per cent of the population aged between 20 and 49. Many couples have turned to sperm banks for help.

Meanwhile, sperm banks are dealing with a worsening shortage of healthy sperm, despite repeated efforts to recruit more donors.

"Less than one quarter of donors in the country are qualified," said Dr Zhang Duanjun, who works at the Jiangxi Human Sperm Bank.

In September, a sperm bank in Shanghai launched a campaign using the iPhone 6s to attract donors. A sperm bank in central China's Hubei province posted a similar ad online featuring a picture of the new rose gold iPhone 6s, hoping to overcome a shortage in donors.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2015, with the headline 'Two-child policy puts pressure on sperm banks'. Print Edition | Subscribe