Donations collected at San Diego Sperm Bank are used in fertility treatments around the world. Here we break down how samples are processed, frozen, then stored, and shipped for treatments.
Sperm donors visit up to 3 times per week for at least six months. When someone is using a sperm donor, it often takes 3 or more treatments before they have a successful pregnancy. It is important that we are able to collect and store enough donated samples from each donor to support each patient trying to become a parent.
After the sample is donated, our lab team then performs a semen analysis to ensure that the sample has enough sperm cells to support treatment. If the sperm cell count is high enough, it will not have to undergo any further processing and will be frozen right away. More often, samples require further processing called a wash.
Most samples are then washed. This process involves removing all the material from the donated sample except motile sperm cells. This results in samples that contain motile sperm cells in a media that helps support them through the freezing process.
Sperm samples are frozen on the same day they are collected. This helps ensure that the highest number of cells are preserved for treatment use. They must be frozen because this is the only way to keep them alive for longer than a couple of days. Frozen samples are stored in liquid nitrogen at -196°C (-321°F) for 180 days, as required by the FDA, and released after the respective donor is tested for infectious diseases.
Properly frozen and stored samples can be preserved indefinitely.
Samples are shipped in specialized tanks that maintain them in a frozen state for about a week. They are transported from San Diego to Seattle, where all our samples are held long-term. After someone has chosen donor samples for treatment use, we will then ship vials – or treatment-size quantities- out to the doctor’s office or fertility clinic.
Donors in the program all make a huge difference in people’s lives who are waiting for fertility treatment options. This includes men with infertility, LGBTQ couples, and single moms by choice.
If you live in the San Diego area and are interested in applying to our sperm donor program, you can start your application online. After completing, you are invited to stop by the lab during open hours for a semen analysis, which is the first step in joining the program.
For any questions about our program, do not hesitate to contact our Donor Coordinators at (858)732-8500 or email [email protected].