What happens to sperm donations?

What Happens to Sperm Donations?

Donors visit Phoenix Sperm Bank weekly to give donations and intended parents receive shipments at their clinic of choice around the US. What steps does the lab take to get a sample ready for future treatments and how are samples shipped?

Here we break down what happens at Phoenix Sperm Bank, from donation to treatment.

Sperm Collection

Donors visit Phoenix Sperm Bank in-person weekly to give donations. Each donation then undergoes washing freezing, and storage before being shipped out for treatment.

Wash and Freeze

A semen analysis is performed on each sample to ensure that it is usable for treatment. The Lab Team is looking for a number of sperm cells (count) and how well they are swimming (motility). If the count and motility are very high, samples may be left unwashed and prepped for freezing right away. These unwashed samples can be used for any treatment later and give clinics the opportunity to wash the samples right before treatment.

On the other hand, most samples are washed before the freezing process. Washing the sperm sample removes seminal fluid, white blood cells, non-motile sperm cells, and any other debris in the sample. This is done by adding a specific wash medium, then centrifuging the sample. A sample prepared this way would be ready to go for treatment as soon as it is thawed.

Regardless, of whether a sample is washed or not, it must be frozen for storage and shipping. A freezing medium is added to the sample that protects the cells by preventing ice crystals from forming. Vials that contain the sperm sample with freeze medium are placed into liquid nitrogen which quickly freezes the sample at -196°C (-321°F). When samples are properly frozen and stored, they can remain viable indefinitely.

Sperm Storage

Vials are stored in large storage tanks that are filled with liquid nitrogen. Due to FDA-required testing, vials must be stored in quarantine for 6 months, while the donor undergoes infectious disease testing. Vials are frozen onsite in Phoenix, but they are then shipped to Seattle for longer-term storage. This is where the samples will stay until they are used for treatment.


After vials are released from quarantine, they are ready to be used in treatment. Vials are requested by intended parents and then shipped to either fertility clinics or doctor offices. Shipment is done in a specialized tank that is prepared to keep vials frozen during transport. These specialized shipping tanks only keep vials frozen for a week, so timing is key.

Sperm donations go to help people who are missing a sperm source to start their family. This includes men with male factor infertility, LGBTQ+ couples, and single Moms by choice. The number of families in need of sperm donations to start their family has grown in recent years and there is currently a shortage in the number of donors available. If you think you have what it takes to become a donor at Phoenix Sperm Bank, you can apply here to get started.

If you have any questions about the process or how to get started reach out to our Donor Coordinator at (602)888-7255 or info@phoenixspermbank.com.