Quebecers shop for sperm on social networks

Quebecers shop for sperm on social networks< /p> UPDATE DAY

Quebecers take the risk of turning to social networks and websites to find a sperm donor, discouraged by the long delays and the complexity of fertility services supervised by governments. 

Émilie Durand, a resident of Charlevoix, took steps with the health network to become a single mother, in March 2022. 

The 41-year-old woman is on a waiting list for fertility services from a clinic in the Quebec City area. Without news for almost a year, she feels discouraged. “Destroyed, completely devastated. That's why I'm looking for something else. It makes no sense,” she explains to the J.E team. 

Ms. Durand has decided to turn to social networks to find a sperm donor. This is the last hope to realize his dream of starting a family. 

Many risks

The report presenting his case, which will be broadcast this evening at 9:30 p.m. on TVA, lifts the veil on this parallel universe of sperm donation via the internet and the risks that can be associated with it. 

Public and private reproduction offer a much better framework.

The health risks are numerous when a woman resorts to donating sperm from a stranger, without going through the health network, says Dr. William Buckett, of the Center de reproduction du Center universitaire de santé McGill (MUHC).

Here at the MUHC's in vitro fertilization lab, a specialist uses an inverted microscope to choose the best sperm and inject it into the egg.

“We don’t know [the state] of physical and mental health, all the risks of infections, illnesses, etc. “, he describes. 

Finding men ready to donate their sperm is done in a few minutes on Facebook or specialized forums. The J.E teameasily managed to get a sample in a simple plastic container after coming into contact with donors. Some had not been tested for sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs).

A donor we met via Facebook gave our journalist a sperm sample in a plastic container.

These traditional methods are an easy way to avoid the hassle of the health network and private clinics, which offer much more supervised services.

Back to free care

The Association Infertilité Québec notes a 20% increase in requests for fertility services since March 2020, in the public and private network.

Waiting times “are attributable in particular to an increase in requests [ …] since the start of the provision of insured IVF [in vitro fertilization] services in November 2021,” writes Noémie Vanheuverzwijn of the Ministry of Health’s media relations in an email. 

As of that date, the department resumed offering free of charge certain services that had been chargeable for a few years.

The spokesperson added that the pandemic and labor issues have also affected waiting time.

Céline Braun, president of the Association Infertilité Québec, also notes that Quebecers have more and more fertility-related problems, because they are older when they they want children.

“It is often due to the fact that people do a job, study, enter the labor market later. […] We wanted to create a social, buy a house, ”she explains, which delays the project to start a family.

Attractive offers… or not

With a few clicks, you can find volunteers who offer their sperm for free on Facebook. Here are some examples:

LACK OF RAW MATERIAL

It's not easy for assisted reproduction clinics, whether public or private, to find sperm.

The Quebec Ministry of Health confirms that there is no sample distributor of semen located in the province. A spokesperson explains, by e-mail, that “the only sperm bank is private [clinique ovo] and is reserved for the needs of their patients”.

Reproduction centers must therefore turn to the abroad, especially in the United States, explains Céline Braun of the Association Infertilité Québec. 

“Unfortunately, these banks are currently empty or almost empty,” she laments.

Ms. Braun thinks that Canada and Quebec should consider the possibility of remunerating donors, as in the States. States. 

Thus, there could be sperm banks in Quebec.

Three ways to have access to fertility services

TO THE PUBLIC:

Quebecers shop for sperm on social networks

Costs ▸ The Régie de l'assurance maladie covers one cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and a maximum of six artificial inseminations.

Establishments▸ There are 15 public assisted procreation centers in Quebec. The CHU Sainte-Justine and the McGill University Health Center are the only two to offer in vitro fertilization services.

Supervision and precautions ▸ Assisted procreation centers must, in particular, assess donor suitability and sperm quality. They also ensure the conservation and quarantine of sperm.

FOR PRIVATE:

Quebecers shop for sperm on social networks

 

Costs ▸ The cost of a basic IVF cycle can range from $4000 to $8600. For an artificial insemination treatment in a private practice, it costs about $475.

Establishments ▸ There are seven private assisted procreation clinics in Quebec, which also offer services covered by the RAMQ.

Supervision and precautions ▸ Like public centers, private clinics must assess donor suitability and sperm quality. They also offer safe storage and quarantine of sperm.

HAND-MADE DONATION:

(Without an intermediary such as a doctor or healthcare facility)

Quebecers shop for sperm on social networks

Costs ▸ Free. It is illegal for a donor to receive payment under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.

Settlements ▸ Many voluntary donors place advertisements on Facebook pages and community forums. discussion.

Supervision and precautions ▸ There is no supervision and precautions can be taken at the discretion of the two parties. For example, a screening test for sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) may be requested from the donor.

It is also possible for a donor and a woman brought into contact via the internet to then go through a reproduction centre, which ensures better supervision.

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