Donor Sperm

Donor Sperm and Male Infertility Treatments

Many couples choose to use donor sperm when they find themselves in circumstances where the man does not have any sperm to use, he has sperm but it is ineffective in establishing a pregnancy, or the couple does not want to use the sperm because of possible genetic abnormalities. Although many couples initially feel reluctant to use donor sperm, most who eventually choose this route are quite satisfied with the outcome and have no later regrets.

Sperm can be donated by family members or friends, or can be obtained from commercial sperm banks. Donor sperm can be used with intrauterine insemination (IUI), intracervical insemination (IC), or natural insemination (via intercourse with the donor).

Commercial Sperm Bank Selection Process


A common misconception is that sperm donation is not a very selective process. In reality, most of the more than 150 commercial sperm banks in the United States accept less than 5 percent of men applying to be sperm donors, and sometimes less than 1 percent.


About 50 to 90 percent of sperm donors are college students or graduate students, and most fulfill the following criteria:

      1) 18–39 years old

      2) Negative for infectious disease:

      3) No history of significant risk factors for infectious disease

                       a) Sperm is quarantined for six months before it can be used

                      b) Regular testing for, e.g., HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, cytomegalovirus

      4) Genetic testing and full multigenerational family history to screen for diseases

      5) No history of:

                     a) Blood transfusions within the last year

                     b) Homosexual activity

                    c) IV drug use

                   d) Genital herpes

      6) Minimum quality of sperm:

                   a) Semen analysis of frozen/thawed sperm shows a minimum post-thaw density of 20 million motile sperm/cc and

                                  25–40 percent motility

                   b )Must maintain minimum sperm quality parameters for six months

      7) Willing to provide two specimens a week


I recommend that you request and carefully review the screening criteria used by the specific commercial sperm bank that you are considering using.

Choosing a Commercial Sperm Donor


A wide range of criteria can be used by couples to select a donor who resembles the prospective father, if so desired. These criteria can include age, height, weight, eye and hair color, education, occupation, ethnicity, and religion. Donors can also be selected with the help of face-matching software that compares donor photos to a photo of the prospective father (or this can be done by the couple).


Tracking by Commercial Sperm Banks

Commercial sperm banks are required to keep track of any children who are born with birth defects or mental deficiencies (the average risk in the general population is 3–4 percent, and thus this should be the approximate risk in the donor population as well, minus any genetic issues that have been screened for). Most countries limit the number of children that can be born per donor (generally around ten) to decrease the risk of consanguinity later in life (having children with someone closely genetically related to you). Usually a donor who has reached his limit can provide further samples if a couple wants more sperm to try for additional biologically related siblings.

Sperm are usually donated in an anonymous fashion, in which the children do not have later access to the contact information of the sperm donor. Some labs do offer an “ID option,” in which the donors agree that their offspring can contact them once the children reach eighteen years of age.


Cost of Donor Sperm

In general, using donor sperm costs around $500 per cycle. Listed below are the 2014 prices for three national sperm banks.


ICI (unwashed 10 million TMC/cc)

                          Fairfax Cryobank         California Cryobank     Cryogenics Lab

Anonymous                 $498                           $550                      $380

ID option                     $619                            $650                      $497


IUI (pre-washed 10 million TMC/cc)

                           Fairfax Cryobank         California Cryobank     Cryogenics Lab

Anonymous                 $625                            $650                    $450

ID option                     $738                            $750                    $610


IVF (unwashed 5 million TM/cc)

                            Fairfax Cryobank         California Cryobank     Cryogenics Lab

Anonymous                 $360                            NA                       $250

ID option                     $479                            NA                       $359