A blue graphic showing a sperm swimming to an egg.
Sperm donors are usually between the ages of 18 to 39, and several rounds of health screening are put into place.

What is a Sperm Donor?

While reproductive technology has come a long way, some things about biology are fundamentally true and are unlikely to change. One of those facts of life is that it takes a sperm cell to conceive a baby. However, what has changed is how sperm gets to an egg. In past years, there was only one way for that to happen… But nowadays sperm donation is an important part of how many people plan for a family. What is a sperm donor?

This article has everything you need to know about sperm donation, including how it works, what it costs and what the requirements are to become a sperm donor.

How Does Sperm Donation Work?

Unlike a woman’s eggs, it is pretty easy to collect sperm outside of the human body by simply collecting semen from ejaculation. The semen undergoes rigorous testing for infectious diseases, both at the time it is donated and for as long as six months afterwards.

When a woman decides to use a sperm donor to attempt to become pregnant, it can be done in several ways. These include:

  • Intrauterine insemination: This is the most common method, in which the semen is placed directly into the uterus by a long catheter and a syringe. This can be used to combat several types of infertility, including hostile cervical mucus.
  • Intravaginal insemination: This method involves placing the semen into the vagina. It is the closest approximation to regular sexual intercourse. It is less successful than intrauterine insemination in general, but more common in home-insemination methods. This is an ideal method when a woman has an otherwise healthy reproductive system and may be seeking a sperm donor because her partner does not have viable sperm, whether through a sexual dysfunction or by virtue of being a woman herself.
  • In vitro fertilization: This is a process in which the fertilization of the egg occurs in a lab instead of inside a woman’s body. This requires a sperm donor, as well as an egg donor. It is far more difficult, costly and invasive than other insemination methods, so it is best for cases when no other option will work.

How Does Sperm Donation Cost?

The cost of sperm donation depends on whether you are receiving the sperm or donating it.

Using a sperm donation is a costly affair. A single vial of donated semen may cost as much as $1,000, and that does not include the costs of refrigeration, transportation and the insemination procedure itself. Whether or not any of these costs are covered by your insurance depends on your plan and unique circumstances.

If you are donating sperm, you will actually get paid to do it! The going rate is quite good. If you get into a good arrangement with a sperm bank, you can make up to $1,500 a month. In general, do not count on sperm donation as a full-time job (or everybody would do it), but it can certainly make you some supplemental income. However, this is only if you meet the strict requirements for donors.

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What Are the Requirements for Sperm Donors?

Unfortunately, not everybody can become a sperm donor. This makes sense for several reasons. Firstly, everybody would do it and there would be too much supply to meet the demand. The other, far more important reason is that sperm banks need to make sure the semen they use is safe and high quality. Some of the requirements for becoming a sperm donor include:

  • Age: Sperm donors generally need to be between the age of 18 to 39.
  • Health: Sperm donors must undergo a physical to ensure they are in good health, be screened for infectious diseases and undergo psychological evaluation to rule out mental health issues and addictions.
  • No family history of hereditary diseases: This can be verified through a combination of genetic testing and interviews.
  • Semen quality: A sample of semen will be screened for viability and sperm count before somebody is allowed to donate.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Sperm Donor

In general, you cannot go wrong with becoming a sperm donor if you are eligible. It pays well and it is a wonderful way to help people. However, there are some cons to consider as well:

  • Abstaining from ejaculation: You must abstain for two to three days before donation
  • Disclosure: You’ll have to decide whether to disclose that information to a future partner later on, and some partners may be uncomfortable with that knowledge for whatever reason.
  • Not knowing your biological children: This may not bother some men, but it can be disconcerting to others to know there are biological offspring of theirs in the world that they will not meet. Sperm donations are usually anonymous, and parental rights are not protected by law in these circumstances. In some cases, a man may give permission for his contact information to be released when the child turns 18 if the child requests it.

In Conclusion

Whether you are thinking of becoming a sperm donor, or you and your partner are looking to receive a donation, sperm donation can be a great thing to help you achieve your goals and plan for the family you want to have.