The sales of at-home sperm collection kits surge in the past weeks as men fear coronavirus hinders them from having children.
While no concrete proof connects the virus to infertility, men rush to freeze their sperm during the pandemic. They then send the kits to sperm banks with mail-in collection services trying to save their sperms.
CryoChoice's Operations Manager Heather Kilpatrick says that the sales of their at-home sperm collection kits have increased by 20% during the lockdown weeks. She adds that they receive numerous queries from people who are scared about the virus.
Similar startup companies also have reported an exponential sales increase in sperm-collection kits, which are then shipped back to clinics for cryogenic freezing. Legacy receives orders that are 10 times more than the usual volume.
Meanwhile, another company, Dadi, says more people aim to store their sperms for another five years. This prompts the company to add long-term storage spaces.
However, the fertility clinics also worry this spike during the pandemic would leave other people with no space for preservation. This includes cancer patients at higher risks of infertility because of treatments.
Yet, other clinics have already scaled-down or even closed their operations after authorities advised them that they are not essential services.
Is there a reason to be afraid of?
No research has directly connected the virus with fertility. Even the study published online that checked on the semen or testicular tissue samples from 13 COVID-19 patients did not confirm anything.
While all subjects are positive from the virus, none of the samples were positive for coronavirus. This also concludes that coronavirus is not sexually transmitted. Moreover, the study did not discuss how the virus affects men's sperms.
Nanjing Medical University in China conducted the study, which was published on Mar. 12 on the Hubei government's website. However, the article was immediately removed from the government website after a few hours. The reason for the deletion was not clear, as reported by the South China Morning Post.
Perhaps, men worry that high fever, one of the primary COVID-19 symptoms, can result in infertility. Studies show that fever, and even minor changes in body temperature, reduces sperm production and mobility. These are important factors of sperm's ability to fertilize an egg.
However, fertility specialist Dr. James Grifo from NYU Langone thinks that it is not a major issue. 'High fever is known to inhibit sperm production, but men have germ cells that cake new sperm every day,' says Dr. Grifo.
While hepatitis B and mumps lead to infertility, most viral illnesses like flu and COVID-19 do not affect potency. Thus, Dr. Grifo does not recommend freezing sperms at this time.
Aside from fever, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include cough and shortness of breath. Health experts promote social distancing to be an effective way to prevent the spread of the disease.
As of Wednesday, Apr. 15, the number of coronavirus cases has reached the 2 million mark with a total of 2,017,174 worldwide, with 492,023 recoveries and 128,011 deaths.