Sperm Donor Myths and Misconceptions

September 12, 2012

I have written before about the myths and misconceptions of sperm donation; everything from men thinking they can just walk in and donate one time to sperm counts differing week to week. There are still many myths and misconceptions out there, so I thought now would be a good time to debunk a few more.

Myth: One ejaculate is one vial of sperm. OR One ejaculate is 15 vials of sperm.

Truth: This is completely dependent on the quality and fresh analysis of the ejaculate in question. The sperm count and motility/progression determine how the sample will be processed and how many vials will result. Because our current Specimen Quality Standard is to have 10 million TMC sperm cells/vial we do some math that determines the total number of vials that can be made from the ejaculate. Sometimes this is 1 vial, sometimes it is 10. The average number of vials/ejaculate is around 4-5 depending on the prep type.

Myth: Donors donate 2-3 times a week, sometimes for years at a time.

Truth: Our Cryobank works with our sperm donors to determine the optimal number of abstinence hours for them to produce the best quality sample. The majority of our donors produce once a week. Our program requires the donors to donate for a period of 6 months though many of them stay in the program a bit longer.

Myth: You can assume that every vial equals a pregnancy.

Truth: On average it takes up to 4 inseminations to achieve pregnancy, similar to the success rates of traditional fertilization. Depending on the procedure and the prep type of the donor sperm sample, this can be 4-8 vials.

Myths: Sperm Banks are unregulated and do whatever they want to do to make money.

Truth: Sperm Banks are highly regulated by the FDA and various other state governments. Many sperm banks are also AATB accredited and all follow the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM.) Sperm Banks also have internal policies that are developed and followed to meet the needs of the donors, the recipients, and the offspring. These internal policies cover everything from the number of vials that are produced for each donor and the number of Family Units for each donor. Fairfax Cryobank developed a policy in 2008 that limits the number of Family Units for each donor to 25. We rely on pregnancy and birth reporting to track this, as well as limiting the number of vials that a donor produces. We monitor these numbers monthly.

Fairfax Cryobank Blog

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