How Abstinence Affects Sperm Donation

How Abstinence Affects Sperm Donation

A lesser-known fact about joining the sperm donation program in San Diego, until you join, is the period of abstinence required for any donation. All donors must abstain from ejaculation through any means between 48 and 72 hours. But why does this rule exist? First, we have to take a look at sperm production as a whole.

How is sperm made?

Sperm is produced by specific cells called spermatogonia cells located in the testes. Without getting too complicated, these cells divide a couple of times, change a bit with each division, and become sperm.  It takes about 64 days to complete all of these cell divisions. Even after all of the cell modifications, the sperm still cannot swim, so they spend some time in the epididymis to fully mature.

Why abstain?

If it takes just over 2 months to make fully mature sperm, who cares about 2-3 days of abstinence right? Well, let’s start with what happens during longer periods of abstinence. When you have fully mature sperm ready to go, they will be stored in the epididymis until ejaculation occurs. Since sperm are continually being produced, there is an increase in the number of sperm the longer time passes between ejaculations. As sperm sit in storage, they start to become less motile, DNA becomes more damaged, and overall quality is reduced. So, it makes sense to use sperm that has not spent too much time in the epididymis.

With shorter periods of abstinence, you do not have enough time to collect higher numbers of sperm in storage in the epididymis. You end up with lower numbers of total sperm counts in the ejaculate.  

In both cases, longer abstinence with lower numbers of motile sperm and shorter abstinence with fewer total sperm result in donations being discarded and not usable as a donation sample. Abstinence periods are a balance between collecting enough sperm and preventing too much aging. Between 48 and 72 hours has been shown to be an optimal time for higher-quality sperm.

Ready to be abstinent?

So happy you are ready to join our donation program. Luckily you only need to abstain from ejaculating for periods before giving a donation. With flexible scheduling, you can make donation and abstinence fit into your life and re-schedule as needed. The first step to joining the San Diego Sperm Bank Donor Program is to complete an online application.

All the information you submit to us is always protected by HIPAA laws, the same as a doctor’s office. So, you can feel at ease that we will not share any identifying information with anyone. The information on the application helps us get a preliminary idea about who you are and if there is anything that would immediately disqualify you from the program. Once you have completed the application, you can either schedule a visit or stop by our lab in La Jolla when you get a chance to submit a semen analysis. Just remember to be abstinent for at least 48 hours before that first visit!

Perks for sperm donors?

If you are accepted into our program are there is compensation for each donation, access to routine STI testing, and donations help a lot of families.

Compensation works in 2 parts, initial funds are for each donation that is high enough quality to be released. Second amount after infectious disease testing results come back negative. Therefore, it is important to maintain proper abstinence periods before donations (also your donation cannot be used in treatments if the quality is poor).

Donors are provided with results of genetic screening and lab work, which can be kept for personal records or provided to their primary care physician. On average, men are less likely than women to visit doctors. You would get the opportunity to stay on top of your health without any extra healthcare costs.

There is a national shortage of available donors, every donor counts! By applying and joining your donation would help men who have infertility. This could be caused by injury or some treatments like chemotherapy. Additionally, some men discover they are born with blockages or structural issues in reproductive organs that prevent them from being fertile.

Two mom families and other LGBTQIA families likewise benefit from sperm donations to start their families. Further, a growing number of women are pursuing parenthood without a partner would also seek treatment with donor sperm. Many families rely on donor sperm to reach their goals of parenthood and cannot do this without you. Not everyone will qualify, and the decision to donate isn’t right for everyone, but taking the first step is a meaningful act.

Apply today to get started. Or if you have questions about the steps to becoming a sperm donor you can reach out to a Donor Coordinator at the San Diego Sperm Bank by calling (858)732-8500 or email [email protected].