Yesterday, I read an article about troops from the United Kingdom storing their sperm before they deploy. It reminded me of a conversation I had about five years ago with an executive of a West Coast sperm bank. She told me that military couples constituted a good portion of their clientele. Unfamiliar with the process, I immediately thought that most of these couples were struggling with infertility issues and that the reason so many military families bank sperm is so that the woman could continue treatments even if her partner were deployed. As it turns out, according to Kay, that was one of many reasons, but not necessarily the primary reason.
As the UK article points out, couples choose to bank sperm for many reasons. If the service member is injured and unable to father children, they have an "insurance policy," and (hopefully) will be able to have a biological family regardless of the injury. And then there are those who, in the event of death, may choose to have a baby sometime down the road.
A quick internet search revealed that freezing sperm became a big trend in 2003 just before our troops went to Iraq. Some labs were offering military discounts or free storage. Fear of side effects from the required vaccinations and the possibility that our troops could be met with chemical or biological weapons were factors for military couples. Oddly, I saw very few stories about this over the past five or so years. Although the fears of chemical and biological weapons have dissipated and things are now fairly stable in Iraq, we're still deploying a lot of service members to Afghanistan and the possibility of injury or death is ever-present.
Because there are few stories available doesn't mean that military couples aren't still choosing to bank sperm, but it did pique my curiosity. I think this is a wonderful option for military families and let's face it, we're notorious for planning for the worst case scenarios. I wonder if this procedure is still as popular among military families. Have you and your partner discussed or considered banking sperm, or actually gone through the process?