How Are Sperm Stored in Sperm Banks?

by Maggie McCormick
Freeze your sperm until you are ready to use it.

Freeze your sperm until you are ready to use it.

A sperm bank will freeze and store a man's sperm until he--or someone else--is ready to use it. This is an ideal solution for anyone who must go through a treatment that can harm sperm production or ejaculation. Some sperm banks will even pay you for your specimen if you allow single women or infertile couples to use your sperm to conceive.

Function

The main purpose of storing sperm in a sperm bank is to be able to use the sperm at a later date. The original donor may use the sperm to impregnate his partner when the couple is ready to conceive. People also use sperm banks in situations where the woman does not have a male partner or in surrogacy situations. The woman can be impregnated through in vitro fertilization or by using a cervical cap for conception at home.

How It Works

Initially, the sperm bank will perform a comprehensive analysis of your sperm to determine how fertile you are. The company will then divide your sample into small vials and add a cryoprotectant. After that, a technician will place your vial in a liquid nitrogen vapor, which will freeze the sperm over a period of 60 minutes, at which point, he'll place it in a liquid nitrogen tank for storage.

Considerations

When using your sperm for conception, it may take more than one attempt for your partner to become pregnant, so you should store several samples at the lab. You can do this over a period of several days, but you should wait at least two days between appointments to build up sperm count. During that time, you should refrain from ejaculation, either through sex or masturbation.

Time Frame

The sperm bank will store your sperm for as long as you allow them to or until someone requests to use it, if you've donated it. You can request that the bank destroy your sperm by sending a notarized letter.

Controversies

Some worry that sperm donor banks could be used for eugenic purposes. In the early 1980s, Robert K. Graham created the Repository for Germinal Choice, which was a sperm bank that only included the sperm of Nobel Prize winners. Other sperm banks specialize in sperm from attractive donors only. As a woman or infertile couple looks for sperm, she is able to choose a donor based on race, physical description and other characteristics.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

Photo Credits

  • sperm and egg 4 image by chrisharvey from Fotolia.com