People who want to start a family but have, for whatever reason, a problem with the sperm half of the equation have options. There are in-vitro methods that get sperm right next to or injected directly inside an egg. There are sperm banks. Some people have friends who are willing to be sperm donors. And the internet has created a murky world of “natural inseminators” – men who will start a pregnancy for strangers with sex, no strings attached.
In an article for GQ last week, Michael Paterniti presents a profile of one of the most successful natural babymakers in Europe, a man who seems to be going for maximum male fertility.
Ed Houben is now, at the age of 46, one of the preeminent makers of babies on the planet, father to 106 children of whom two-thirds were made the natural way (i.e., by sexual intercourse) and a third made via artificial insemination. In addition, there are 30 or so he estimates from his years at the clinic. Put another way: Ed Houben, who once had sex once every decade, has fathered roughly ten kids every year for the past 15 years. And he’s still at it, thumping his way into history. So prodigious is his legacy that the BBC dubbed him “Europe’s most virile man,” while he regularly gets billed by media as “the Sperminator.”
His life is not as exciting as you might expect. A lot of it revolves around the unglamorous details of scheduling multiple women around his day job as they near ovulation. He never really gets to know his clients, or the children he starts (although he’s willing for the kids to contact him if they want to meet their biological father). To me, it sounds very lonely. I’d love to know what you think. [GQ]