I worked in the donor department of a sperm bank for about three years, doing everything from purchasing the...ahem, visual aides, to interviewing donors, to working the donor desk ::shudder::.

Ask me anything!

EDIT 1:04 PM: Thanks so much for all your questions everyone! It's been fun re-living my time at the 'bank.

Comments: 193 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

probably_has_herpes33 karma

Have you ever had to tell a dude that his semen was no good because it tested positive for an STD he didn't know he had?

randomjism151 karma

Ugh, yes. Or I should say, I've seen it happen, but it was the lab manager's job to tell them. Never something as serious as HIV, but still, telling someone they have chlamydia and having them realize that their current gf gave it to them is horrible.

probably_has_herpes57 karma

Shit. That is not the way I would want to find out.

randomjism192 karma

Sometimes I wonder if people with funny usernames forget what their username is and end up making a comment that directly applies to it.

gaptree27 karma

Would donors ever come in, get sent into the back room or whatever, and then not be able to "complete the transaction"?

randomjism141 karma

Yes, ha. They had a time limit (usually about half an hour, which, looking back on it, seems like an absurdly long time). If they weren't finished, I--being the only male who worked there--would have to go knock on the door and tell them to hurry up. Awkward experience for sure.

gaptree22 karma

And then what? They come out, hand you back an empty cup and hang their head in shame? Do they get paid just for trying?

randomjism136 karma

no, they almost always finished up successfully. They were usually just hanging brains in the donor room, watching some porn and eating some snacks.

littlelowcougar16 karma

So, er, how much does a vial cost? Were there any best sellers that stand out in your mind?

randomjism129 karma

I think vials were around $700-$1000 (not different prices, I just can't remember the exact price...I know that's a wide range). It's an expensive process for sure.

"Best sellers"...yep. Some guys completely sold out. (6' 3", blond hair, blue eyes, rocket scientist or something)

Meta2314 karma

Did anyone donate so often it was creepy?

randomjism120 karma

Donors are only allowed to donate every 48-72 hours, and most kept to that schedule, so I guess they were all normal (or all creepy) in that way.

mixedveggies18 karma

That is much more often that I would have expected. I thought it would be like giving blood, once every few weeks.

randomjism122 karma

Nope, sperm fully matures within that 2-3 day window...information that one of our donors thought he could use to not get his gf pregnant ("If we have sex every day, the sperm is too immature to impregnate you!")

mixedveggies12 karma


So you have to discard sperm that is not used within that window and then obtain a fresh sample? I am a bit confused.

randomjism110 karma

Nope, so long as it's frozen within that window, it's ok. The donor...does his thing, then the lab does their thing, and then the sample is frozen pretty much right away.

mixedveggies5 karma

So what is the need for so many samples per year from the same donor?

randomjism110 karma

I think they're trying to get 300-500 vials from each donor, just so they stay in the catalog long enough. More than one woman will probably want that same donor's sperm, so there needs to be enough to go around.

mixedveggies6 karma

Interesting. Did people ever have a moral dilemma about the paternity of the children? Or ask to have a part of the child's life afterwords? (Again, all of my perception of this comes from movies.)

randomjism111 karma

The majority of the guys were in college, so in my experience, they didn't seem like they really understood the full repercussions of having that many children potentially in the world.

You could request to be an "open" donor, meaning once the child was 18, he had the right to contact you (like, "The Kids are All Right").

crumcrow13 karma

Whats the requirements to be a donor?

also what kind of questions do they ask during the interview?

randomjism122 karma

Have to be at least 5' 8", no diseases, no serious genetic history of disease, in good mental and physical health (not overweight). There are plenty of other things that get revealed during the interview and medical history process, but a big one in responsibility--once you agree to become a donor, they want you to donate...so if you're just going to get one check an disappear, that's not helping anyone.

TFRthrowaway4 karma

Why over 5'8"? I know many successful men who are under that height and it doesn't bother them... it's a shame that a sperm bank would discriminate over something that poses no health risks.

randomjism129 karma

They aren't the ones discriminating, it's the women/couple who are buying it. Unfortunately, the best sellers are the tallest people. At some point, the company ran a focus group where they realized that if women had their choice, they would want their kids to have the chance at being tall. The shorter guys just wouldn't sell.

Mrs_Mojo_Rising12 karma

There has to be a spill story that sticks out.

randomjism117 karma

Actually, there wasn't any spill that I can remember. There was a box to check on the exit from each donor had to fill out after each donation that said something like, "Did you get it all in the cup?" (Obv more formal than that.) If they checked "yes," then we closed off that particular donation room until the cleaning ladies (God bless them) came at night.

No spills that I can remember in the lab either; that shit was taken pretty seriously.

CheeseGetsMeHard8 karma

that shit was taken pretty seriously.

wait... you accept poop donations, too? That I can do :D

randomjism110 karma

Ha! ...Though for real, we had to draw blood and take urine samples there too (drug check, health, etc). There was a bio-waste box that had the greatest sticker on it: something like, "There is no cash in this box; urine and blood only."

roguepublichealth8 karma


randomjism117 karma

I would say its excessive, the amount of porn we provided to donors. Monthly subscriptions to Playboy, Penthouse, Swank, Hustler, and at least one or two others. Plus, ~40 DVDs that were produced in the 2000s (i.e., no big 80s muff hair).

skirlhutsenreiter22 karma

And now we know who's keeping these magazines in business in the Internet age.

randomjism116 karma

Exactly! And the DVDS!

roguepublichealth22 karma


randomjism113 karma

Well said.

mixedveggies6 karma

Do you get to take them home when the new issues come in? Hahahha

randomjism127 karma

The mags were in less than mint condition by the end of the month (read: sticky pages), so nooooope.

skirlhutsenreiter3 karma

And what variety?

randomjism16 karma

Any and everything: BDSM seemed like a popular one, but also the standard Jenna Jameson, Brianna Banks stuff were over-used.

windowvision7 karma

Is it only Straight porn? like, do you have gay and transsexual porn as well?

Also, can a gay man donate sperm?

randomjism114 karma

I'm not sure if it's changed since I was there, but the 'bank went by the same guidelines as the Red Cross did for blood drives, i.e., if you've had sex with a man, you couldn't donate (maybe risk of HIV? Though I always thought that was a dated bias).

So, straight porn only.

mixedveggies5 karma

Did they have to like...request things from the ladies at the front desk, or was there a library where they could help themselves?

randomjism112 karma

mags were in the rooms already, but they had to get through me if they wanted a dvd, haha. There was a binder of the dvd titles (actually, they were the paper liner covers of the dvds I ripped off and put in the binder), and each one had a number corresponding to the dvd. So they'd be like, "Yeah, let me get...number 17," and I'd hand it to them.

mixedveggies12 karma

So theoretically there was no embarrassment, unless you memorized what dvds went with what number.

randomjism110 karma

yeah, exactly

mixedveggies8 karma

When women or couples come in looking for a donor, is it really like on tv where they get to flip through a "catalog" of eligible men and their academic, professional and physical qualifications?

randomjism119 karma

More or less, yeah. Although the majority of that is done online now. Still, the donors' up-to-date photos aren't shown; you only get to see baby photos. All the other qualifications are there though.

HearToLearn5 karma

Do they try to remind guys who are donating that they will in fact become fathers one day through this process, that it's not just cash for sperm (new band name I call it)? Has that ever stopped anyone from donating?

randomjism18 karma

Yeah, the coordinators did as best they could with sitting down each guy and being like, Do You Know What This Means? A few guys get spooked by the process and stop before they're at the step where their sperm is banked (and sold), but not many.

HearToLearn3 karma

Has anyone come in and claimed to believe they were the son/daughter of a donor, and wanted to try to figure out who it was?

randomjism114 karma

No, though we did have more than one customer/client/mother try to stake out the donor door to see if she could recognize who the father of her child could be.

bobmuluga5 karma

Once accepted to the program, how long each time the donor comes it does it take to go through the process to actually get in to a room? Do they fill out paperwork every time?

randomjism12 karma

once accepted (a process that takes about three months in itself), it takes about 2-3 minutes to sign it, fill out a couple questions, and get a donation cup

chestbrahx184 karma

Does age matter, also how much would I mAke

randomjism18 karma

need to at least have started a four year college degree; 19+

Baller-Annie4 karma

So..why did you work there?

randomjism121 karma

Honestly, because it was a sperm bank and I thought it would be hilarious. Also, I worked there while I was getting my Masters degree, and I pretty much made my own hours.

mixedveggies3 karma

You said you are the only guy that worked there. Why do you think there were so many female employees? Did any of them get lewd comments from the donors?

randomjism112 karma

There were a few men who started working there once I left, so maybe I was being a little misleading.

But yes, occasionally the women got lewd comments from potential donors, in which case I would escort them out of the building, and they weren't matriculated into the donor program.

Trandalfiz3 karma

Have you ever encountered someone you knew while working there, coming to donate? If so what happened?

randomjism14 karma

nope, never

YourGFLovesTheD2 karma

In an answer before, you said a person made $75-100 per donation. What was that based on? In other words, if his was a smaller donation it only got $75? Or were there other things that decided the pay?

randomjism16 karma

If he produced only 1 vial (not based on volume), he got I think $25. So long as it was 2+, you got $75. By the time I left, they had upped every donation to $100.

IMDBLM2 karma

Is there any cap on how much a man can donate in a region? Ten times a year or something?

randomjism110 karma

Once they're actually accepted into the program, the can donate every 48-72 hours. Different companies might have different caps, but for the one I worked for, it worked out to donors being around, donating consistently, for about a year, maybe a year and a half. $75-$100 per donation--you're making a pretty penny.

IMDBLM13 karma


randomjism119 karma

This horrified me too--a very real possibility!

dontshootbb6 karma

where is the need for all of this sperm coming from? That seems to be a lot of sperm collected??

randomjism113 karma

It's more about the company being able to say it has the greatest number of donors and the greatest variety of them. Even if some donors never sell, it's enough to just add them to the total that women/couples can choose from.

Also, Women are advised to buy I think something like 4-7 vials (I think; it may be more) for one try at getting pregnant. It usually doesn't happen on the first time.

lacrimaeveneris1 karma

Do you find that you meet the same gentemen over and over, or do you have some regulars and some occasional faces (I know you said the restriction is 48-72 hr, but how much variance do you see?

Also, do you see a lot of diversity, or is there a general "type" of guy who donates?

randomjism17 karma

Sure, certain donors were my favorites--the college guys who would come in on a Saturday morning, hungover, and pissed cause they couldn't find someone to have sex with the night before.

Still, there were new people coming in every day, if not to donate, then to be interviewed to enter the donor process.

Gravy-Leg__1 karma

How was the sperm processed once it was donated?

randomjism17 karma

Can't really speak to much of this from a sciencey perspective; I was working with the donors to matriculate them into the process, not really with the donations themselves.

Having said that, I know it was put on a rocker for about an hour, then counted, and vialed, and cryogenically frozen.

roguepublichealth-3 karma


randomjism14 karma

Trying to work on a way to give you all proof and remain relatively anonymous. Ideas?

roguepublichealth3 karma


randomjism15 karma

Talking to them now to get the right kind of proof (in case you care)

randomjism14 karma

got it, I'll try to get an old paystub or something online