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Adventures in Donor Sperm

Michelle Ottey, PhD, Laboratory Director, Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc

Dr. Ottey received her BA in Biology from Rosemont College in 1997 and then received her PhD in Genetics from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in 2003. In 2003 she began a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. Her graduate and post graduate work was in cancer research using cell and molecular biology techniques.

Dr. Ottey joined Fairfax Cryobank in June of 2006 at the Philadelphia site as Site Manager/Laboratory Supervisor, a position in which she could make a more immediate impact on bettering lives by helping women and couples build their families. She received her HCLD certification from AAB in 2011 and moved into the position of Laboratory Director for the Cryobank. As Director she oversees the Sperm Donor Program, patient sperm banking, and all laboratory processes.

This blog is to inform people about their choices in donor sperm, to educate on the screening process and regulations, and provide interesting or funny anecdotes that will highlight the lighter side of donor sperm.


a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Laboratory Director for Fairfax Cryobank, August 3, 2016

Information varies by sperm bank, but generally there is a lot of information out there. You can learn a lot about the individual donors as well as their family. The goal of the sperm banks is to provide you with information that will help you choose the right sperm donor for you and your family.

Many banks offer Donor Childhood Photos. Photos of the donor are usually between 6 months and 6 years of age. Some banks offer one photo other offer several photos. Some Sperm Banks offer Adult or Lifetime Photos. Donors provide a series of photos from infancy through adulthood. You may like a Donor Silhouette, a profile photograph of the donor that has been shaded to show only the line of his side profile. This is a great way to view the adult donor's physical characteristics, yet keep him anonymous.

perfect sperm donor.jpg

a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Director of Operations, Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc.

To start, there really is no “perfect” sperm donor, but they come pretty close! When we are recruiting prospective sperm donors we are looking for many physical and personal characteristics that will be appealing to our patients. These traits are variable. When we screen these prospective sperm donors’ specimens, we are strict, precise and hold high standards.

a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Laboratory Director for Fairfax Cryobank, July 3, 2014

Sperm banks rely on parents via sperm donation to report successful pregnancies and births to track the number of families attributed to each donor. There are numerous ways to report: call, email, online forms, etc. Almost all sperm banks now have an internal limit on the number of families per donor, but the only reliable way to track that is through recipient self-reporting. Your information is confidential; it will not be released to the donor or anyone else.

a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Laboratory Director for Fairfax Cryobank, June 24, 2014

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “Is the donor sperm safe?” Women want to ensure that the sperm sample being used for their insemination is safe and will not put them or their potential child at risk.

Sperm fertilizing an egg

a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Laboratory Director for Fairfax Cryobank, February 20, 2014

The CDC website lists data from a 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. They found that 7.5% of sexually experienced men under the age of 45 have visited a fertility doctor. These men visited a fertility doctor, presumably, due to an inability to conceive. Eighteen percent were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (14%) and varicocele (6%). A varicocele is a condition that causes a man’s testicular veins to be enlarged, which leads to the testes overheating. When this occurs sperm morphology (shape) and motility can be affected.