(South China Morning Post) Looking at page after page of childhood photos, Xiaogunzhu was drawn to an image of a French-Irish boy with smiling dark blue eyes. But she was not admiring her lover’s family album, she was browsing a catalogue of potential sperm donors – the 39-year-old is one of an increasing number of affluent single women in China seeking a child, but not a husband.
Unmarried women in China are largely barred from accessing sperm banks and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, forcing them to seek options abroad.
Analysts predict that the total market in China for fertility services will reach US$1.5 billion in 2022 – more than double its 2016 value. Demand for services overseas for Chinese nationals is also booming.
Danish sperm and egg bank Cryos International has created a Chinese website and added Chinese-speaking staff. American and European sperm banks say that they have increasing numbers of Chinese clients. But the journey is neither cheap nor easy…
The cost of conceiving a child through a foreign sperm bank starts at 200,000 yuan (US$28,500). Women must make several trips abroad for the medical procedures, as Chinese law bans importing human sperm.
In China, sperm donors must remain anonymous. But international sperm banks offer women details like hair colour, childhood photos, and ethnic background.
“If you choose to use a sperm donor, sperm is essentially a commodity,” said Carrie, a 35-year-old single mother living in southwest China who also requested anonymity. Carrie said that international sperm banks are more sophisticated than Chinese ones, and “able to meet consumer demand”.
Peter Reeslev, CEO of Cryos International, said that given the extra choices, “Chinese women tend to choose Caucasian donors.”