Sperm Donation
November 2, 2004 3:45 AM   Subscribe

Can you really make money by walking into a sperm bank and making an anonymous sperm donation (as seen in many low-brow comedies)? I certainly can't imagine some homeless guy making money that way, but perhaps some 6'3" Princeton grad...

If I had to guess, the potential supply for sperm donations is much greater than the demand and that clinics have to fend off the wackos with a stick. Is that true?

Has anyone ever anonymously donated sperm? Or donated sperm non-anonymously? Would you? What would possess you to do such a thing?
posted by alidarbac to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I haven't donated sperm, because I don't have any of my own, but I did have several friends in college who were paid to donate their sperm. It's not just a scam.

My perception was that they wanted to be paid for something they were going to do anyway. Also, a couple of them were gay men who didn't plan to have children, and they thought it was an interesting way to be part of the gene pool.

I believe that in those days (late 80s/early 90s) the rate of compensation was $30-$50 per, er, shot. There was a particular sperm bank that used to run ads in our college paper at least once a month looking for donors. As I recall, it specified that you had to be 6 feet tall, have no hereditary diseases, and have good eyesight.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:58 AM on November 2, 2004

that clinics have to fend off the wackos with a stick

I'm going to take guess that you originally had "beat" in there instead of "fend," and then thought better of it.

Now, for the obligatory substantive content: So you wanna donate sperm?
posted by luser at 4:12 AM on November 2, 2004

It's definitely NOT anonymous. We've looked into purchasing some sperm to make Little Baby Me's and when you're making your selection, you basically look at an online catalogue listing the guy's age, race, fitness level, IQ, college degrees, etc. You even pay more for lawyers and PhD or MDs. Then if you want to pay an extra $15 to $50 and get ten to forty more pages on them - their checkup results, personal essays and even family photos. By the time you fill out all the paperwork and do your thing, it can't be more than $15 an hour.
posted by pomegranate at 4:40 AM on November 2, 2004

pomegranate, I don't know if your experience is universal...it sounds like you went to a very thorough institution.

While I can't speak first-hand, I also had a couple of friends in college who did this, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have gone through anywhere _near_ that exhaustive level of forms, etc. They were basically broke for the weekend, and this sort of thing was one of several options they'd rotate through--med school research tests, grad school psych experiments, etc.

Maybe not the best "daddy" candidates, but also the type of guys who would've found other things to do if donating sperm involved essays, or any way for things to get traced back to them.
posted by LairBob at 5:26 AM on November 2, 2004

1. my friends conceived their son via gayspermbank.com [they're gay, the donor is also gay]. They got an exhaustive level of detail about the donor and even got to choose to have him be a part of their son's life when he gets older.

2. I had friends in college who donated sperm in more the way LairBob outlines. There was a short form mostly concerned with genetic problems and past drug use and at the end of it, you'd get $50-75.

3. did you see Jackass's Spermathon episode?
posted by jessamyn at 5:41 AM on November 2, 2004

I had a friend who investigated sperm donation, but it's not anonymous, and it's not as easy as walking in and dropping a load. He had to fill out a thirty page personal, family and medical history and provide a (free) sample so they could examine it for motility, as well as a blood-work up to guarantee he was HIV-free.

They declined to add him to the roster because he had two extremely aged grandparents (in their late 90s) who'd died of cancer, but if they'd accepted him, he would have had to adhere to a very specific donation regimen, which prescribed no sex during certain black-out dates to guarantee that his donation would be... I dunno the word- extra spermful, I guess.

This was in the early 90s, so things may have changed.
posted by headspace at 5:49 AM on November 2, 2004

(By the way, the wacko contingent is WAY high, as you suspected. We originally planned to use a "fresh" donor and we put the appropriate legal and social safeguards in place, but we got so many wackjobs that we became concerned for our safety and our baby's genetic predisposition to uh...sanity. Instead we decided to go with an anonymous to us, clean and tested tube rather than some of the very scary persons we were meeting.)
posted by pomegranate at 6:10 AM on November 2, 2004

I wouldn't recommend this as a way to make money because I think family law is heading towards recognising the sperm doner as a parent, with all the issues that raises like child support, alimony, etc, etc..
(I am not a lawyer, just very careful)
posted by ruelle at 6:33 AM on November 2, 2004

We're in the same boat as pomegranate and have been researching this for about a year. I have come to the conclusion that the level of 'work' depends on the sperm bank. The amount of background information on the donors varies quite a bit with each sperm bank - some only request basic background information, and others have extensive profiles complete with childhood photos, essays, and significant historical/medical information on not just the donor, but also on siblings, parents and grandparents.

On a side note, we've found ourselves extremely grateful that strangers (to us) have donated sperm so that we can create a family. For most I'm sure the primary motivating agent is money, but I think the desire to help childless couples conceive is a close second. So if anyone here is thinking about donating, I think it's a really good thing. People are looking for all kinds of donors, too, so don't feel like you have to be 6ft and a model to do it.

on preview: re anonymity, the law cannot change existing donors to become recognized if they specified anonymity. In other words, even if the law changes later, existing donors will always be protected.
posted by widdershins at 7:21 AM on November 2, 2004

You've got to expect a few wackjobs. When I was in school there was a rumor the entire mail staff of the mailroom donated their max amount weekly. Needless to say they weren't part of any Master Race plans.
posted by yerfatma at 7:38 AM on November 2, 2004

I tried this once in college, through the university's affiliated hospital. They are very choosy. The biggest criteria is whether your sperm can survive the freezing-dethawing process. Few men have sperm that can survive that process in sufficient numbers.

My sperm did not make the cut. Neither did the sperm of two of my friends. A third friend, though, made it. He had to donate once a week for (I think) three months, and got paid around $5000 for his efforts. That's a nice sum, but it did involve a commitment of regularly showing up over a longish period of time.
posted by profwhat at 7:48 AM on November 2, 2004

I tried it when I was in college - 5'11 Harvard undergrad, OK-but-not-great eyesight. There was a 5 or 6 page form to fill out - accomplishments, interests, family medical history, and so on.

They paid $105/wk for three donations; those were pretty much the only ejaculations you were allowed to have all week (the rule was 48 hours, so you could maybe squeeze a couple in on Friday night.) As it turned out they couldn't get mine to freeze well in Ficoll of different constitutions, so after 2 weeks they politely dismissed me (although, honestly, I wonder - they must have had enough material for 2 billion babies at least by that time.)

It wasn't about the money at all; I just wanted to see what the deal was. I was 19 and I gave no thought whatsoever to helping childless couples or the prospect of having my kids running around; I was just curious.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:54 AM on November 2, 2004

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