What Does Sperm Donation Involve?
About 150 commercial sperm banks exist in the United States; these banks
are often clustered around universities where many intelligent and virile
young men live. The qualities present in college students are in
high demand among infertile couples trying to have a baby. Thus,
approximately 50 to 90 percent of all sperm donors are college students!
The remaining 10 to 50 percent of donors come from all walks of life and
have a variety of interests, values, and skills.
Only 5 percent of all male applicants who apply to be a sperm donor
meet the criteria to donate sperm. The following conditions immediately
disqualify a potential donor from donating sperm:
Applicants go through a rigorous screening process before they are cleared
to donate sperm. Donor screening consists of questionnaires, blood
screening, specimen screening, genetic analysis and a physical evaluation.
This process includes:
Men who have a history of certain diseases in the family (i.e. cystic fibrosis,
sickle cell anemia, etc.) cannot donate sperm.
Homosexual men and men who have had sex with other men cannot donate sperm.
Intravenous drug users are automatically disqualified.
Men who have visited areas where considerable numbers of AIDS cases have
been reported and have had sex with either women or men living there are
prohibited from donating.
This screening process takes from 8 weeks to 6 months depending on the
sperm bank to which the man is applying. If the man is one of the
lucky 5 percent of applicants who are accepted to donate, he will be paid
from $40 to $100 for each semen sample. A donator can sire a maximum
of 10 children and potentially make up to $6,000 in a year. Sperm
donation is usually motivated by money rather than altruism.
Comprehensive interviews about sexual behavior, family background and reasons
for participating in the sperm donation program.
An extensive family history (spanning in some cases, three generations),
is taken and evaluated.
The semen is analyzed for sperm cell count, forward sperm cell motility,
and normal sperm morphology.
The candidate is tested for infectious diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B,
and Hepatitis C (and others).
ABO-Rh blood typing.
Genetic testing for cystic fibrosis.
The donation process is simple. The man walks into a private room
which is usually stocked with pornography and masturbates into a sterile
container. The semen sample is collected from the container and is
mixed with a cryopreservative solution, divided in aliquots, sealed in
vials and frozen with liquid nitrogen. The frozen semen is stored
at -321 degrees F. When needed, the semen sample is thawed and used
in artificial insemination.