Since the first donor inseminations that were typically performed on heterosexual women and often shrouded in secrecy, the sperm banking industry has undergone tremendous changes. To start, following the initial outbreak of HIV, the FDA required the donor be tested and his sperm frozen and quarantined to avoid the spread of infectious diseases.
But perhaps the biggest change has been societally driven. As more lesbians have decided to start families, they frequently outnumber heterosexual customers at some of the largest sperm banks. As a result, the criteria for choosing a sperm donor has changed as well. Says Scott Brown of the California Cryobank, recipients are now looking for a more emotional-based connection rather than a specific set of physical characteristics. They want to know more about his personality and the qualities that make us unique as individuals.