Redhead sperm donors welcome, says doctor

18:27, Sep 20 2011

Sperm donors with red hair, brown hair, blonde hair or no hair at all are all welcome in New Zealand, a leading fertility expert says.

While one of the world's largest sperm banks has reportedly rejected sperm from red haired men because of little demand, New Zealand sperm banks welcomed swimmers from most men, and were definitely not putting a ban on redheads, Dr Richard Fisher said.

Fisher, who works for the country's largest fertility clinic Fertility Associates, said there had always been a shortage of sperm donors in New Zealand.

"We'd like to have enough donors for everyone and the issue of whether they've got red hair or not is a red herring," he said.

"There's an assumption people will choose on physical characteristics but that's not necessarily true. People are aware of it but it's not their primary choice."

London's Daily Telegraph reported that Denmark's Cryos sperm bank, which provides sperm to women in 65 countries, has started turning away red-haired donors because there is very little demand for their sperm.

A recent peak in donations meant the sperm bank could be selective about their donors, Cryos's director Ole Schou said.

"There are too many redheads in relation to demand," he told told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

"I do not think you choose a redhead, unless the partner - for example, the sterile male - has red hair, or because the lone woman has a preference for redheads. And that's perhaps not so many, especially in the latter case."

Mr Schou said the sperm of redheads "sold like hot cakes" only in Ireland, while Cryos's clients mostly demanded donors with dark eyes and hair.

Fisher said most people wanted to know the sperm was coming from a man of good character, who had good relationships and who shared similar interests to themselves.

But when it came to sperm donors in New Zealand, Fisher said recipients had "very little choice".

He said fertility clinics in New Zealand found it particularly difficult to recruit sperm donors who were willing for their sperm to go to a lesbian couple or a single woman.

It was easier to get men to donate sperm to heterosexual couples, but there still wasn't enough to meet demand.

New Zealand sperm banks did not offer money to donors, which is one of the reasons why supply did not meet demand, Fisher said.

He said it wasn't a case of turning down donors in New Zealand that was an issue, but recruiting them in the first place.

"It's almost as easy to get egg donors as it is to get sperm donors," he said. "And egg donors have to go through an in vitro fertilisation cycle, whereas men just have to donate their sperm."

He said many women who donated their eggs had an understanding already of what it meant to be a mother and would often donate their eggs directly to a friend, family member or someone else they knew wanted a baby.

But sperm donors rarely met with their recipients prior to donating.

Fisher said sperm donors usually had at least one counselling session prior to donating and would provide enough sperm for up to four families.

Couples and individuals who had conceived via sperm donation would often go back to the sperm donor for a second round.

Sperm donors were required by law to be identifiable. Children who have been conceived via sperm donation could access their donor's details when they reached 18 years.