This is a good surprise for medically assisted procreation (PMA) professionals. In 2021, the number of gamete donors (male or female reproductive cells) has increased sharply. According to the Biomedicine Agency, which is launching a new information campaign on the subject on Monday, May 16, nearly 600 men donated their sperm last year. The previous record was 404 donors in 2017. Nearly 900 women donated their eggs in the same period: the highest level since 2019, this time.
A movement driven by legislative developments
To explain this movement, it is useless to look far. “News surrounding the revision of bioethics laws has played a crucial role”, analyzes Professor Louis Bujan, head of the reproductive medicine and biology department at the Toulouse hospital. And more precisely, the very commented opening of the PMA to women in couple or single. “I think we will have candidates who will act out of activism,” confided the specialist to The cross in October 2021. Prediction confirmed in its center, where the extension of assisted reproduction has mobilized new donor profiles.
→ READ. PMA in France: what the law says
Some, homosexuals, give by “community solidarity”, he explains. Others, informed about the lack of gametes and the fear of professionals of not being able to respond to all requests, ” want to contribute to increasing stocks”. According to a barometer published by the Biomedicine Agency on May 10, this possible shortage is spontaneously cited by the people questioned among the reasons which would make them take the plunge one day (82% say they are in favor of the approach).
A strict selection
But not every candidate is necessarily elected. Medical questionnaire, analyses… the selection is strict and the motivations deepened. In Toulouse, for a few months“we are recruiting more single people without children, observes Louis Bujan. Which does not go without asking questions”. Because some men “want to enter into a process of procreation” and see themselves like this “indirectly having children”, summarizes Frédéric Letellier. Moreover, the bioethics law recalls that no filiation link can be established between the donor and the child born of his donation.
→ MAINTENANCE. Should you tell your child that he was born by PMA?
An essential point, since from next September, the donation of gametes will no longer be anonymous. Any person born of a donation may, from the age of 18, request access to non-identifying data on their donor (age, general condition at the time of the donation, etc.) or to know their identity. Only volunteers accepting this change will be recruited. But right now, doctors are already anticipating what will happen next by asking new donors their position on the subject.
A transition period before lifting anonymity
Paradoxically, while this lifting of anonymity raised fears of a drop in donors at the time of parliamentary debates, “She is rather favorably received on the ground”, notes Professor Bujan. According to the barometer of the Biomedicine Agency, still, the right of access to origins is even seen by 22% of respondents – an increasing rate – as an additional motivation to give if they were to one day volunteer.
If Alexandre Mercier, president of the PMAnonyme association which brings together people born of donations, waits for the measure to actually come into force to measure its impact, his speech does not deviate. “The end of anonymity should not be scary”, he assures. Better, for him, donors sometimes need “to know that their gift has truly enabled children to be born”. That’s not the case today.
However, the marital status of the donor “takes a lot into account, nuance, however, Frédéric Letellier. The lifting of anonymity may be more worrying for a donor in a couple with children”. Like the possibility of seeing his family life disrupted, years after the donation, by the arrival of a stranger, or even the feelings of his own children. “Candidates for donations should be aware of the possible consequences, always wanted to warn Louis Bujan. Sperm donation is not a donation like any other. »
A campaign against conventional wisdom
After a first information campaign organized in October 2021, to recruit – successfully – donors, the Biomedicine Agency, which oversees the PMA sector in France, is doing it again, from May 16, this time seeking to better inform the general public, in general, about gamete donation. 86% of people questioned by the Agency, in its barometer, do not in fact feel “not well enough informed” on the subject.
Podcasts, a round table, testimonial videos from donors and recipients as well as adults born from donations, words from experts will aim to shake up some ” stereotypes “specifies the Biomedicine Agency.
Among these received ideas, the impression “that you must already be parents to donate your gametes”, “that French nationality is compulsory”, “there is no age limit”that “donating gametes can have an impact on fertility”, or that the person born from the donation, if they find their donor, can change their filiation… A way of targeting new donors despite everything.