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How does it work? What is it like for the Sperm Donor?

a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Laboratory Director for Fairfax Cryobank, June 13, 2013

The experience for the sperm donor will vary from sperm bank to sperm bank, but I can describe how it works at our Cryobank.

A man who is interested in becoming a sperm donor has to go through a rigorous screening process before he ever steps foot in the clinic. Typically the men apply online, fill out a follow up medical application online, then wait to hear if they will be invited to screen at the clinic.

When they are invited to screen at the clinic, they are given a tour of the facility and a brief description of the program. They see the donor rooms, have an opportunity to ask questions, and then they receive a short questionnaire and a specimen cup.

Sometimes the look on their face when you give them the cup is comical. They take it, turn it over and shyly ask, “Am I supposed to fill this?”

It takes everything in the staff not to laugh, and they reply, “No, you are not expected to fill the cup. A typical semen sample is anywhere from 2-7 mL.” The prospective sperm donors are usually very relieved at that point, and most laugh. They all have to have a sense of humor about the process; it makes is more comfortable.

Most sperm banks do provide magazines or videos for the men, if they want them. They encourage the men to bring whatever they need to their appointments if the provided materials aren’t to their taste. The semen samples are produced through self-masturbation. As you can imagine, this is a sensitive topic, and not easy for a lot of the men to think about while being given a tour.

If their samples meet the high quality requirements, their medical history looks good, and they complete the extensive medical interview their information is reviewed by the Medical Director. Once approved the men have their physical and extensive disease testing. If everything comes back clear, they are accepted into the program.

The staff at the Cryobank gets to know the sperm donors very well over time. They see them weekly and discuss very personal information. The staff develops a relationship with them. They learn about their family, their classes or jobs, their relationships, their vacations and trips, what they are watching on TV or reading. Some of the sperm donors are very friendly and take some time at their appointments to chat with the staff before or after producing their specimen; for them it is easy and casual. Other sperm donors are a little private; they come in donate and head right out. The staff quickly learns how to make the sperm donor comfortable and establishes a dynamic with them. The goal of the sperm bank staff is to provide a safe, comfortable environment for the sperm donors.


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