Da Brat says she couldn't find a suitable Black sperm donor for her pregnancy. Here's why.
"Diversity is a problem in sperm donation," one expert says.
Da Brat is expecting her first child with wife Jesseca “Judy” Dupart, and she just opened up about having difficulty finding a sperm donor who seemed like the right fit.
"Definitely not a lot of African-American options," Da Brat said in a clip from her WE reality show, Brat Loves Judy, as she can be seen scrolling through profiles on a tablet. Dupart, whose eggs the couple used, then noted that the couple had to find a sperm donor who was negative for "four different things that I'm a carrier of." According to Dupart, "that actually reduced our candidates by, like, 90%."
The couple ended up having 300 options and, of those, only one was Black. "And that [man] looked like Jiminy Cricket,” Da Brat told The Root. “I was like, 'I’m sorry but that wasn’t gonna be my choice.'”
The women eventually chose a white donor. “Because we didn’t have a lot to choose from, he definitely wasn’t Black,” the rapper said.
Unfortunately, the couple's difficulty in finding a sperm donor of color isn't unique. A study of sperm donor availability published in Fertility and Sterility last year found that non-Hispanic White/Caucasian donors represented 70% of the options. Options were much lower for men of other races and ethnicities, including Asian (16%), Hispanic (6%) and Black/African American (4%).
"It is very common to experience difficulty in finding sperm donors of certain ethnic minorities, especially Black sperm donors," Dr. Ashley Wiltshire of Columbia University Fertility Center, tells Yahoo Life. "Black sperm donors make up a very small proportion of what's available at commercial sperm banks in comparison to white sperm donors, whom comprise the vast majority."
"Sperm donors are almost always white," Dr. Jane Frederick, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at HRC Fertility, tells Yahoo Life. "It's really difficult for Black parents who need a donor to start families and can't find one who looks like them."
Experts say the reasons why aren't totally clear — but there are some theories.
"Discussion of infertility in many minority communities is not common. Therefore, there may be lack of knowledge of the need for sperm donors in certain communities," Dr. Kim Thornton, a reproductive endocrinologist for Boston IVF, tells Yahoo Life.
There is also a "generalized distrust of the health care system based on prior experience with experimentation within the Black community," Thornton says — and that can make men less likely to donate their sperm. "More importantly is the lack of information being disseminated into minority communities to dispel myths and to highlight the need for sperm donors from minority groups," she says. "Sperm banks need to be intentional in their efforts to educate the need to reduce stigma or mistrust and then recruit minority donors."
Because there is such a small pool of Black donors, there can be a lot of demand for the sperm that is available. "If the Black donors are being used up, then there's a shorter supply for other people of the same race," Frederick points out.
This isn't unique to sperm donation, though. "It can be difficult to find donors — both egg and sperm — who are of a certain background," Dr. Asima Ahmad, chief medical officer and co-founder of Carrot Fertility, tells Yahoo Life.
Patients do typically have plenty of options, though. "When choosing a donor, intended parents have access to donor profiles that typically include health information on the donor and extended family — parents, grandparents and siblings — education and professional experience, baby pictures and answers to personal questions such as artistic and athletic ability, favorite childhood memories and why they wanted to become a sperm donor," Allison Margolies, egg donor consultant for Maven Clinic, tells Yahoo Life. Some agencies also offer adult pictures and audio recordings, and it's often viewable on a user-friendly website Frederick says.
But experts recognize that there is a challenge for some patients who want their baby to look like them. "Diversity is a problem in sperm donation," Frederick says. "It does create an issue for people of color."
In the end, Da Brat told The Root that she's happy with the final selection she and her wife made. "I think we did a great job with picking," she said. "He’s handsome, he’s tall and I think he’s going to look beautiful with my wife’s egg.”
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life's newsletter. Sign up here.