The Good Sperm Cell. Ethnographic Explorations of Semen Quality

Sebastian Mohr, Klaus Hoeyer

Abstract


Abstract: In this article, we compare the meaning and assessment of semen quality across three different contexts: male infertility, sperm donation, and in-vitro sperm. We ask how semen quality is determined in these three contexts and what kind of practices and normative choices these evaluative processes involve. While the notion of good semen quality is often reduced to biomedical evidence, our analysis shows that it also draws on beliefs about what is desirable and what is not, producing biomedical evidence in light of specifically desired outcomes. Unpacking semen quality, by looking at the specificities of how it is done across three different contexts, in this article we thus move beyond comprehending quality standards as purely technical matters and reposition biomedical assessments of male reproductive potential in their political and normative contexts.

Keywords: artificial sperm cells; gender; infertility; masculinity; reproductive biomedicine.

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