Gulf deployment fears lead some to seek sperm banks' services
Some servicemen heading to the Middle East are freezing their sperm before they ship out, according to a Monday report in USA Today.
Fear of vaccines and possible exposure to chemical and biological agents has prompted at least 80 men in the military to visit laboratories that process and store sperm, according to the report.
California Cryobank in Los Angeles is offering military men a year of free storage and discounts on sperm processing. The lab fielded about 80 calls and scheduled 37 appointments in the past three weeks, client manager Nolberto Delgadillo told USA Today.
Among other sperm banks, Fairfax Cryobank in Fairfax, Va., has been setting two or three appointments a week for the past several months.
Lab managers told the paper that the men making the inquiries aren’t doing this in case they die in combat. Instead, they’re concerned about coming home and discovering they’re infertile and unable to start a family.
Women leaving for the war zone don’t have a similar last-minute option because storing eggs has a low success rate, USA Today reported.
Patrick Atwell, 35, a sergeant in the Army National Guard who lives in Corcoran, Calif., said he would feel “robbed if I couldn’t have children.” Atwell told USA Today he was warned of the risks of infertility by a buddy in his unit who said “he had become sterile after a previous deployment and an anthrax vaccination.”
The military says there is no data linking mandatory vaccinations — or any other substance soldiers might encounter — and infertility. But thousands of veterans of the Persian Gulf War 12 years ago complained of maladies ranging from recurring headaches and muscle pain to infertility.