Sperm bank

Sperm bank

A sperm bank or cryobank is a facility that collects and stores human sperm mainly from sperm donors, primarily for the purpose of achieving pregnancies through third party reproduction, notably by artificial insemination. Sperm donated in this way is known as donor sperm. The first two sperm banks were opened in Iowa City, Iowa, USA and Tokyo, Japan in 1965.Fact|date=January 2008


The development of sperm banks has enabled people to have greater control than ever over their reproductive lives. By providing sperm from donors who are checked and screened, thousands of women every year are able to bear their own children by using a sperm bank in circumstances where this would not otherwise be possible. Couples where the male partner is infertile, single women ( or choice mothers) and single and coupled lesbians in particular benefit from the existence of sperm banks.

In additon, the increasing range of services which is available through sperm banks enables more and more people to have choices over the whole issue of reprodcution. Women may choose to use an anonymous donor who will not be a part of family life, or they may choose known donors who may be contacted later in life by the donor children. Women may choose to use a surrogate to bear their children, using eggs provided by the woman and sperm from a donor. Sperm banks often provide services which enable a woman to have subsequent pregnancies by the same donor, but equally, women may choose to have children by a number of different donors. Sperm banks sometimes enable a woman to choose the sex of her child, enabling even greater control over the way families are planned. Sperm banks increasingly adopt a less formal approach to the provision of their services thereby enabling people to take a relaxed approach to their own individual requirements.

However, the existence of sperm banks remains controversial and in many parts of the world they are not allowed to be established or to operate. Sperm banks do not provide a cure for infertility in that it is the sperm donor who reproduces himself, not a partner of the recipient woman. Most societies are built upon the family model and sperm banks may be seen as a threat to this, particularly where a sperm bank makes its services available to unmarried women.

Where sperm banks are allowed to operate they are often controlled by local legislation which is primarily intended to protect the unborm child, but which may also provide a compromise between the conflciting views which surround their operation. A particular example of this is the control which is often placed on the number of children which a single donor may father and which may be designed to protect against consanguity: low limits are often provided which in reality appear more intended to assuage those who would be opposed to sperm donors producing tens or scores of children as to provide a justifiable safeguard. However, such legislation usually cannot prevent a sperm bank from supplying donor sperm outside the jurisdiction in which they operate, and netiher can it prevent sperm donors from donating elsewhere during their lives. There is an acute shortage of sperm donors in many parts of the world and there is obvious pressure from many quarters for donor sperm from those willing and able to provide it to be made available as safely and as freely as possible.



The sperm is stored in small vials or straws of holding between 0.4 and 1.0 ml and cryogenically preserved in liquid nitrogen tanks. There seems to be no limit on how long frozen sperm can be stored, and a baby has been conceived in the UK using sperm frozen for 21 years [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3745085.stm>] . Before freezing, sperm may be prepared so that it can be used for intra-cervical insemination (ICI), intra-uterine insemination (IUI) or for IVF(or assisted reproduction) (ART).


Sperm supplied by a sperm bank may be used where a woman's partner is infertile or where he carries genetic disease. Increasingly, donor sperm is used to achieve a pregnancy where a woman has no male partner, including a rising percentage of single or coupled lesbians. Sperm from a sperm donor may also be used in surrogacy arrangements and for creating embryos for embryo donation. Donor sperm may be supplied by the sperm bank directly to the recipient to enable a woman to perform her own artificial insemination or, more usually, to a woman through a registered medical practitioner who will perform an appropriate method of insemination or IVF treatment using the donor sperm in order for the woman to become pregnant.

Sperm banks may supply other sperm banks or a fertility clinic with donor sperm to be used for achieving pregnancies. Sperm banks may also supply sperm for research or educational purposes.

In countries where sperm banks are allowed to operate, the sperm donor will not usually become the legal father of the children he produces as the result of the use of the sperm he donates, but he will be the 'biological father' of such children. In cases of surrogacy involving embryo donation, a form of 'gestational surrogacy', the 'commissioning mother' or the 'commissioning parents' will not be biologically related to the child and may need to go through an adoption procedure.

As with other forms of third party reproduction, the use of donor sperm from a sperm bank gives rise to a number of moral, legal and ethical issues.

Men may also use a sperm bank to store their own sperm for future use particularly where they anticipate traveling to a war zone or having to undergo chemotherapy which might damage the testes.


Sperm banks make information available about the sperm donors whose donations they hold in the sperm bank to enable customers to select the donor whose sperm they wish to use. This information is often available by way of an on-line catalog. A sperm bank will also usually have facilities to help customers to make their choice and they will be able to advise on the suitablitity of donors for individual donors and their partners.

Where the recipient woman has a male partner she may prefer to use sperm from a donor whose physical features are similar to those of her partner. In many cases, the choice of a donor with the correct blood group will be paramount with particular considerations involving the use of sperm from donors with negative blood groups. If a surrogate is to be used, such as where the customer is not intending to carry the child, considerations about her blood group etc will also need to be taken into account. Information made available by a sperm bank will usually include the race, height, weight, blood group, health and eye colour of the donor. Sometimes information about his age, family history and educational achievements will also be given. Some sperm banks make a 'personal profile' of a donor available and occasionally more information may be purchased about a donor, either in the form of a DVD or in written form. Catalogs usually state whether samples supplied in respect of a particular donor have already given rise to pregnancies, but this is not necessarily a guide to the fecundity of the sperm since a donor may not have been in the program long enough for any pregnancies to have been recorded.

If a woman intends to have more than one child, she may wish to have the additional child or children by the same donor. Sperm banks will usually advise whether sufficient stocks of sperm are available from a particular donor for subsequent pregnancies, and they normally have facilities avialable so that the woman may purchase and store additional vials from that donor on payment of an appropriate fee. These will be stored until required for subsequent pregnancies or they may be onsold if they become surplus to the woman's requirements.

The catalog will also state whether samples of sperm are available for ICI, IUI and/or ART use. IUI and ART are 'washed' samples, ART samples being those prepared exclusively for IVF use and containing a concentration of highly motile sperm which are fewer in number than those in other vials.

Sperm banks may also allow people to choose the sex of their child or to choose what characteristics they want their child or children to inherit. This is an example of selective breeding.


In the United States sperm banks are regulated by the FDA with new guidelines in effect May 25, 2005. There are also regulation in different states including New York and California. In the EU the sperm banks are regulated by the EU Tissue Directive in effect April 7, 2006.

election and screening of donors

Using anonymous donor sperm or sperm from a known or identifiable sperm donor through a sperm bank is a safe and reliable method of achieving a pregnancy. A sperm bank takes a number of steps to ensure the health and quality of the sperm which it supplies and it will inform customers of the checks which it undertakes, providing relevant information about individual donors.A sperm bank recruits donors via advertising, often in colleges and in local newspapers, and also via the internet. A donor must be a fit healthy male who is willing to undergo frequent and rigorous testing and who is willing to donate his sperm so that it can be used to impregnate women who are unrelated to, and unknown by, him. The donor must produce his sperm at the sperm bank thus enabling the identity of the donor, once proven, always to be ascertained, and also enabling fresh samples of sperm to be produced for immediate processing. Sperm is produced by way of masturbation. The sperm will be checked to ensure its fecundity and also to ensure that motile sperm will survive the freezing process. If a man is accepted onto the sperm bank's program as a sperm donor, his sperm will be constantly monitored, the donor will be regularly checked for infectious diseaes, and samples of his blood will be taken at regular intervals. All sperm is frozen and stored for a minimum of 6 months before being released for sale and use to ensure that the donor is healthy and that his sperm will not pass any sexual or other transmissable diseases to a recipient. Donors are subject to tests for diseases such as human immunoviruses HIV (HIV-1 and HIV-2), human T-cell lymphotropic viruses (HTLV-1 and HTLV-2), syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), cystic fibrosis, Karyotyping 46 [ [http://www.cryobank.com/donorinfo.cfm?page=43 California cryobank] ] [ [http://www.cryosinternational.com/donor-semen/screening.aspx Cryos International] ] XY, and transmissible spongiform encephalopathy or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Karyotyping is not a requirement in the U.S. but some sperm banks choose to test donors as an extra service to the customer. [ [http://ny.cryosinternational.com/our-donors/screening.aspx Cryos New York] ] A sperm donor may also be subject to genetic testing and a sperm bank will obtain medical records of the sperm donor and his family, often for several generations. A sperm sample is usually tested micro-biologically at the sperm bank before it is prepared for freezing and subsequent use. A sperm donor's blood group is also tested to ensure compatibility with the recipient.

ee also

* Artificial insemination
* Genetic counseling
* Infertility
* Spermatozoon
* Surrogacy
* Commercial surrogacy
* Sperm donation
* Sperm donor
* Donor conceived people
*Gestational carrier
* Third party reproduction
* Assisted reproduction


External links

* [http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/sperm/sperm.html SoYouWanna donate sperm?] - Article detailing sperm donation process
* [http://www.spermcenter.com SpermCenter.com] - Listing of sperm donors from all US sperm banks.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • sperm bank — sperm ,bank noun count a place where SPERM is frozen and stored so that it can be used later to make women pregnant …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • sperm bank — sperm′ bank n. ent a repository for storing sperm and keeping it viable under scientifically controlled conditions prior to its use in artificial insemination • Etymology: 1970–75 …   From formal English to slang

  • sperm bank — n a place where ↑semen is kept to be used in medical operations that help women become ↑pregnant …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • sperm bank — ► NOUN ▪ a place where semen is kept in cold storage for use in artificial insemination …   English terms dictionary

  • sperm bank — noun a depository for storing sperm • Hypernyms: ↑depository, ↑deposit, ↑depositary, ↑repository * * * a repository for storing sperm and keeping it viable under scientifically controlled conditions prior to its use in artificial insemination.… …   Useful english dictionary

  • sperm bank — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms sperm bank : singular sperm bank plural sperm banks a place where sperm is frozen and stored so that it can be used later to make women pregnant …   English dictionary

  • sperm bank — /ˈspɜm bæŋk/ (say sperm bangk) noun a storage place for sperm which are to be used for artificial insemination …  

  • sperm bank — a repository for storing sperm and keeping it viable under scientifically controlled conditions prior to its use in artificial insemination. [1970 75] * * * …   Universalium

  • sperm bank — noun a) A place where sperm from donors is stored for future use in artificial insemination. b) The vagina. Syn: cryobank …   Wiktionary

  • sperm bank — place where men donate sperm which is used for artificial insemination …   English contemporary dictionary

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