Can sperm banks discriminate against potential donors based on their hair color?
It seems so, especially if supply exceeds demand, according to a Danish newspaper article about a European company's move to deny donations from people with red hair, at least for the time being.
In countries where donations are in high demand — Spain, Italy and Greece, there's less interest in sperm that might differ from the current demographics of the area. That is, people in these areas usually have brown eyes and brown hair, not lighter eye colors and red hair.
Donated sperm is used to impregnate women through artificial insemination. Single women wanting a child, couples with fertility issues and lesbian partners may use sperm bank services and other third party reproduction methods. Some men may give to sperm banks for their own personal use in the future, too.
After screening and being accepted as a donor, most men agree to a several-month commitment for donating. This also reduces the number of donors a given company will take on.
Banks reserve the right to accept men based on their height and weight as well. But rejecting potential donors based on physical appearance isn't foolproof. For example, one man passed on a rare genetic disease to multiple children through his donation. Though most banks check for a list of common genetic conditions, they seem to value a person's appearance just as much in some cases.
The director of Cryos International sperm bank said the company has refused donors based on hair color and skin traits because women want donations that more closely resemble their partners and others in their community.
Because Cryos has reached its storage capacity (70 liters of sperm, if you're wondering), company representatives say they have the right to be more selective with the physical attributes of donors.
But before writing off redheads, rest assured that their sperm is still a best-seller in Ireland and for women and couples with a preference for the trait.