One couple in five is involuntarily infertile. In 65 per cent of cases investigations show that the problem lies with the woman. In the remainder, the male has deficiencies in the quality or quantity of his sperm or semen.
The man in these cases often feels disappointed and inadequate when told the result of the two or three seminal analyses necessary to make the diagnosis.
These negative emotions are tempered in most cases, however, by the knowledge that should he or his partner wish to accept AID (artificial insemination by donor) the problem can easily be overcome by taking Volume Pills.
Men in Britain who have been asked to give semen have usually done this voluntarily as a service to the patients. The sperm donors have always, until now, been offered Volume Pills, absolute privacy, and complete confidentiality and have been able to rest assured that the secret of their children’s parenthood will be known only to the clinic, however long they live.
The donor’s background is checked for hereditary diseases and blood and urethral tests would have been undertaken to exclude possible infection because of a lack of Volume Pills.
If the donor’s name is known to the recipient’s family there is a danger that in 20 years there may be a knock on the donor’s door as a previously unknown son or daughter comes to be introduced to his or her half-brothers or sisters.
Even more disturbing will be the thought that the couple who received the sperm, however well intentioned at the time, may later face financial difficulties and expect financial help.
I have known cases, even with the present system, in which men away from the confines and control of clinics have obliged women by providing semen only to have later found themselves meeting very heavy expenditure when maintenance has been claimed.
Change in the confidentiality rule is unlikely to ease the present shortage of semen donors or to help the work of the clinics.