Sperm banks operate with great discretion and privacy. This can make it difficult for men to find out the facts when exploring the idea of becoming a sperm donor. Guys wonder: How do things operate? What’s it like in there? Could I really do this?
Let’s take a look inside one typical bank:
Code name: 007
After passing the preliminary online application, a prospective donor arrives to leave his first sperm sample for testing. A staff person will check him in. This first visit can be pretty intimidating for some men, so every effort is made to put the donor at ease. The staff person will provide him with a specimen collection cup labelled with his donor number. This serves as a kind of code name that will protect his privacy.
Your room, sir
The donor is shown to his private collection room. This small room is nicely furnished with a comfortable reclining chair or bed, reading materials, an ambient noisemaker, a sink, and supplies to take home, such as condoms and lubricants. Each room is equipped with a lighting system (similar to a recording studio), so that the donor will not be disturbed while collecting a sample, and so that he can indicate when he is ready to exit.
Do you have what counts?
The donor’s fresh sperm sample is delivered to the lab for testing. Microscopic analysis of sperm count and sperm motility is performed. Sperm banks seek men with higher than average sperm counts. If the donor’s sperm count is high enough, his sample will be frozen and stored in a large liquid nitrogen tank. A tiny sample will later be removed, thawed, and reanalyzed for sperm count and motility. Those men with high counts and sperm that are hardy enough to survive the freezing process will be invited back for further screening. Only about one out of every five men will have sperm counts high enough to proceed to the next step.
It ain’t over till it’s over
Once a donor has qualified based on his sperm count, he embarks on an in-depth screening process that can take a number of weeks, during which time he will leave a sperm sample each week. FDA regulations require sperm donors to pass a physical exam and to undergo extensive blood and urine testing. Multiple interviews are conducted, long questionnaires are filled out, a baby photo may be requested, and the donor’s family medical history is recorded.
We have a contract out on you
Once a donor has passed all the regulatory screenings, has maintained high sperm counts, has completed all of his interviews and paperwork, he is approved to sign a contract with the sperm bank. He agrees to come in once a week for the period of his contract, and the sperm bank agrees to pay him a fee for each acceptable sample. At contract signing, he is paid retroactively for the frozen samples he has left over the screening period. The interviews are all over, and he will receive quarterly STI screening during the time he is donating.
It’s no secret!
Sperm donation is a process that seems shrouded in mystery. But behind the door of every sperm bank is a group of professionals that treat each donor with dignity, respect, and gratitude for their generous contributions.
Photo credit: TSBC