The official suitor bios of The Bachelorette, whose 15th season premieres Monday night, are studied attempts at masculine posturing: Chasen became a pilot to impress the ladies. Garrett once snuck into a football stadium to make out with his girlfriend. Connor’s grandmother (but not Connor himself!) says he deserves a “sexy lady” to give her grandkids.
So what should viewers make of Matteo, 25, a management consultant from Atlanta, who says he has fathered 114 children as a sperm donor? If true, the claim—or is it a boast? or an admission?—is startling, a fact The Bachelorette’s producers were surely aware of when they released the contestant bios ahead of the season premiere. As once-secret sperm donations have become discussed more openly, DNA tests and online registries have also revealed cases in which single donors have produced 50, 100, even 189 biological children. These stories provoke an obvious question: How many children is too many for a single donor?
The U.S. has never considered this issue a necessary one to regulate. While countries such as the U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands limit how many children a single donor can have, the U.S. only has voluntary guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a professional group for fertility specialists. “It’s concerning to have single donors used too much,” says ASRM’s president, Peter Schlegel, adding that more than 100 times is indeed too many. ASRM guidelines suggest no more than 25 births per sperm donor in a population of 800,000 people, to prevent accidental incest. Several prominent sperm banks, which ship material all over the country and even the world, have set their own limits now—sometimes, only in response to news reports uncovering large sibling groups.