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Stronger, faster, more concentrated: China sperm bank holds contest for university students’ samples

While some young people in China have taken to “lying flat” and dropping out of the rat race and cut-throat environment, one tournament has reignited the competitive spirit of some university students – a sperm quality competition.

To encourage more sperm donations, there will be no fee to enter the competition organised by the Henan Human Sperm Bank.

Participants will also have 50 days to make up to 20 donations and will be paid up to 6,100 yuan (S$1,150) each for their efforts, the sperm bank said on Sunday.

The contest is open to university students in Zhengzhou, capital of the middle-eastern province Henan. The donation and testing process could take up to 50 days.

They will be compensated for expenses incurred, including transport costs and the number of donations made.

To sniff out the most “invincible contender”, semen samples will be evaluated on at least four criteria: sperm concentration, volume, structure and motility, or how fast their sperm move.

The sperm bank is targeting university students because they have “high-quality” sperm, an employee at the facility told Chinese media.

Those who want to join the contest must meet certain prerequisites listed on the sperm bank’s WeChat page. They must be aged between 20 and 45, and be at least 1.65m tall. They must not be smokers, alcoholics, habitual drug users or have same-sex or promiscuous sexual histories.

The men must also refrain from sexual activity for five to seven days before the day of donation, and maintain personal hygiene, including by “taking a shower” before visiting the health facility.

Sprightly university students who meet the bar were told to make appointments at the bank to avoid wasted trips due to “limited slots”.

The sperm bank, which operates out of a hospital affiliated to Zhengzhou University, announced the competition in an advertisment on social media. Its headline uses a Chinese idiom about desiring greatness from excellence, a pun on jingzi, the Chinese word for sperm.

Winners of the competition will be dubbed “nameless heroes”, the organiser said, but that has not stopped some demonstrations of male chest-thumping bravado on social media.

Some users on micro-blogging platform Weibo responded to the ad with their real names. One proclaimed he will donate as many millilitres as the number of likes he gets for his comment, while another has pledged to donate 20 times in a day.

Another social media user said he would forego the compensation money if he comes in first and has his name announced throughout China.

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The fertility rate in China is declining, dropping to a record low of 1.09 in 2022.

Sperm banks in China have been finding difficulty in attracting donors due to high rejection rates, according to a 2021 study involving the Henan Human Sperm Bank organising the competition.

Married men with children and higher education are more likely to have their sperm accepted.

But even after meeting the health and education criteria, the most observed reasons for rejection were suboptimal sperm quality, including malformations, donors having sexually transmitted infections and chromosomal abnormalities.

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