'Career women' empty nation's sperm banks

January 20, 2008 01:00am

CAREER women in Sydney are creating a nationwide sperm shortage as they race to have a family before turning 40.

With demand for sperm growing rapidly - particularly from single Sydney women - clinics are importing vials from the US on a monthly basis.

"The demand is incredible and continually rising," said John Braine, from Fertility East in Bondi Junction.

The most surprising trend has been a 40 per cent rise in the number of single women seeking sperm donors.

"These are women, aged from 35 to 40, who are single, attractive career women, who cannot find a man to have a baby with," he said.

While Sydney's man-drought had compounded the problem, new laws giving children the right to know the identity of donor parents was a big factor in the decline in donor numbers. As a result, there are fewer than five registered sperm donors in NSW.

Sydney couple Catherine and Stefanie, (pictured), have two children, aged two and 11 weeks, thanks to a donor.

"We were fortunate enough to be able to use an Australian donor, whereas others we know have been forced to search overseas to fulfil their dreams of parenthood," Catherine said.

"We were the seventh family for this donor. When we started, there was a limit of 10 families, so he was nearly up to his quota when we started three years ago. I think he's off the books now."

Dr Anne Clark, from Fertility First Hurstville, said the sperm shortage would be compounded by new laws, which restrict a man's sperm to only five families, down from 10. It was not known if, or how, this could have an impact on the use of overseas sperm.

Dr Joel Bernstein, medical director at Fertility East, believes social change was driving the rise in single women seeking sperm donors.

Dr Bernstein said Fertility East, which is affiliated with a US sperm bank, offers women and couples a vast array of donors to choose online, providing childhood photos and audio interviews of donors.