Meredith is an online researcher who specializes in finding creative financial alternatives for families.
For some men, the thought of donating sperm sounds like easy money. They're not necessarily wrong; the total earnings could amount to a whopping $264,000 for those committed to continuing with the program for many years. After acceptance to a donation program, the pay is good, and you could expect to earn around $1,000 a month.
Although it sounds like an ideal way to earn some extra cash, not all donors are accepted. In clinics that publish their acceptance rates, the percentage of applicants who finally become donors can be as low as one percent. There are various reasons why applicants are declined, and the clinic isn't obligated to tell you why your application was not accepted. Furthermore, not all men want to go through the lengthy application process before becoming a donor.
Let's take a look at what is involved in becoming a successful sperm donor. When you know what it entails, you will be better positioned to decide if being a donor is something you wish to pursue.
How Much Can You Make as a Sperm Donor?
You can start at the age of 18, and most clinics will allow donations from healthy men up to the age of 40. There will be periodic screenings to check the quality of the donation. Over several years, this could amount to a sizable amount of money—let's do the math.
Age 18 to 40 = 22 years of potential donations
12 months x $1,000 = $12,000 per year
$12,000 x 22 years = $264,000 over the course of 22 years
So if you start early and donate consistently—and if you secure a good monthly rate of $1000—then the maximum amount you could make would be $264,000. That's assuming you're lucky enough to remain healthy and otherwise eligible, and you keep regularly donating every single month.
Requirements for Becoming a Sperm Donor
First, you will need to be assessed to see if you meet the qualifications. Although different clinics will have their own requirements, there are similar standards across the board.
- Age: The age range of 18–35 years is considered ideal for donation, with 40 or so often being the limit.
- Height: Most clinics require men to be at least 5'7"–5'10" (173–177 cm). Some clinics specify 5'9" as the ideal height.
- Build: Clinics usually look for those with a normal build with a BMI of 18–25.
- Education: Some clinics require that you've completed or are enrolled in a college degree program.
- Health: You must be a non-smoker and in good health.
- Psychological Assessment: You may be asked how you feel about your identity being shared with potential biological children. If you're donating sperm to someone you know, there may be additional questions.
- Family History: Most known genetic problems will disqualify you, and you must be able to provide a family history to verify your genetic health.
- Appearance: This requirement is a bit more subtle, but it's very real. The clinics want their clients to have an attractive child, and therefore it isn't only down to your education, height, history, and health—being conventionally attractive will count in your favor. If you have acne or scars from acne, this too can have a negative effect on the outcome of your application.
- Personality and Professionalism: This one may also vary by clinic, but in general, if you arrive looking unkempt and show up late, it is likely you will be turned down as a donor. To avoid seeming irresponsible and untrustworthy, treat the clinic visit as though you are going to a job interview.
Can You Donate Sperm Just Once?
Most likely not. Most clinics require a six-month or even a one-year minimum commitment from donors. Also, the rigorous application and testing processes are probably not worth it for many men in exchange for a one-time payment that's probably only about $50.
What to Expect as a Sperm Donor Applicant
Sperm banks want to stock the most desirable samples for potential clients, so their screening process is fairly time-consuming and detailed. You'll be expected to:
- Fill out a questionnaire.
- Receive a physical exam and submit blood work.
- Submit a sample of your sperm.
- Sign consent forms releasing your rights to contact potential biological children.
Before you even get to the clinic, you might be required to fill out an online application as the first step in screening. Questions will include your height weight, ethnicity, education, and family history.
If this level is passed, then you will be contacted to come in for an office visit. More detailed questions will be asked at this point, and a semen sample will be given for analysis.
A second office visit will be required for further analysis, and this is when consent forms would be signed and a detailed profile will be completed. Another semen sample will be taken, and the sperm will be frozen with liquid nitrogen. They will test the viability of the sample after the freezing to see if it is suitable for their clients.
What's on the Donor Application Questionnaire?
The questions will highlight any potential genetic problems which could be passed to any offspring. The clinic would be negligent if they accepted donations from donors who were carriers of genetic diseases such as:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Color blindness
- Hereditary cancers
You will also be disqualified if you currently have a sexually transmitted infection of any kind, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and more.
Your recent travel history may also affect whether you're accepted as a donor. For instance, if you were recently in a country experiencing a disease outbreak, that could rule you out or require further testing to make sure you're not infected.
Checking Your Sperm Count
After you have answered a questionnaire, which will be rather lengthy, you will also need to provide a sample. The clinic will be spending several thousand dollars screening applicants, so they want to get the best possible specimens they can. They will likely do an initial test to make sure your sperm count is high enough to accept you as a donor.
Low sperm count (oligospermia) or no sperm count (azoospermia) will disqualify you from the program.
What to Expect When Providing a Sample for Semen Analysis
You will be taken to a room which will have adult videos and magazines to assist you in the process. You will put your sample into a sterile container which will be provided by the clinic. This then will be examined for both quantity and quality. To achieve the quantity, it is suggested you abstain from any activities involving ejaculation for two to three days before your visit to the clinic. The sperm will then be examined under a microscope to determine their motility. The clinic only wants donors whose sperm will likely result in a successful pregnancy.
What Counts as Low Sperm Count?
Fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter—or less than 39 million sperm per total ejaculate—is considered a low sperm count. In case you were wondering, an average sperm count ranges from 15 million to greater than 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
Continued Testing and Screening
This process can take four to five months before you become a sperm donor. If you are successful, there will be ongoing screening and semen analysis. A questionnaire will be required for every donation.
Approximately every three months there will be further tests for diseases, and twice a year you will have a doctor's examination.
All of these procedures help ensure the recipients get the highest chance of success for their IVF treatment. Most reputable clinics will limit the number of successful pregnancies allowed per sperm donor; in the USA, the limit is 25 children. Some countries allow the export of frozen sperm.
As a Donor, Can You Remain Anonymous?
It is possible to be an anonymous sperm donor. Not every sperm bank has the same guidelines, so be sure to check with the specific clinic you have in mind if it's important that your identity isn't disclosed to the clinic's clients. The clinic will still need to verify your identity, medical history, etc., so be sure to ask which information can be kept confidential.
While some clinics may require their clients to sign a contract saying they will not attempt to contact the donor, there can never be absolute anonymity where your DNA is concerned, especially since genetic analysis services like 23andMe are widely available.
Who Is Likely to Use Donated Sperm?
Sperm banks have a variety of clients. They include heterosexual couples who have been unable to conceive for various reasons. Single prospective parents may also use sperm banks, such as single women who want a child but not a partner. Same-sex couples who wish to have child may also choose this route.
Reasons why a heterosexual couple may be unable to conceive include the following:
- A low sperm count (oligospermia)
- Klinefelter's Syndrome
- Lack of sperm (azoospermia)
- Endometriosis, PCOS, or pelvic inflammatory disease
- Lack of ovulation, including age-related infertility
How Much Does Donated Sperm Cost for Clients?
Curious what the markup will be like when the sperm back sells your donation? Well, storage fees, insemination procedures, and other options services all add to the cost the client will ultimately be paying for the sperm. Though rates vary, a normal price for a vial of sperm is around $950. The insemination procedure will likely add hundreds of dollars to that price tag. Costs vary depending on the type of procedure and the specific clinic, and they may or may not be covered by some insurance plans.
Private Sperm Donation
Let's not forget about the end user—the childless couple or individual who wants to use a sperm donor to complete their family. Although most will contact a fertility clinic to receive treatment, some will do this privately.
If someone you know can't conceive and needs a sperm donor, they may ask if you would be willing to donate your sperm. There are men who will do this for altruistic reasons and others who want payment.
If you opt to do this privately, without the aid and secrecy provided by a third party like a fertility clinic or sperm bank, you can contact a lawyer to know your rights. Although donating sperm may seem like no big deal right now, you never know how you or the other people involved will feel in the future.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can a 75 year old man who can ejaculate regularly and in excellent health qualify as a sperm donor ?
Answer: No, the upper age limit is normally 40. The companies invest time and money in their screening programs and only select the best options. If a man begins at 18 and continues until 40, the company has earned well from him.
Question: I’m still researching it, but I think most sperm banks “retire” donors after a certain number of vials are collected (like 100), with the average ejaculation filling 2-5 vials. So I think the potential lifetime earnings of a donor are much much lower. Do you know if this is the case?
Answer: If a clinic has worldwide customers, it could be higher. This is something to ask at your local clinic or donation center. Also, regulations are always changing. To stay informed it's best to speak with a reputable clinic. Your local doctor should be able to provide you with their numbers.
© 2017 Meredith Davies
Meredith Davies (author) on July 11, 2020:
This is not a 'get rich quick scheme'. As I've said in my article, there is a long screening process. Men who do not meet the criteria are not considered candidates.
Jr on June 10, 2020:
Can a non resident of that country be needed or allowed to donate sperm? If yes who'll cover the travel expenses?
Gift Maviembela on May 02, 2020:
I am 31 years and i want to donate sperm ,i need some cash .
Gregory on March 12, 2020:
I want to donate my sperm I want money and am 20 years old
Raghu on February 28, 2020:
Im 21 i want to donate sperm i want money is there
Dwight Howard on January 24, 2020:
Can I ensure that my sperm only goes to a man?
Meredith Davies (author) on January 02, 2020:
As I have written in my article, you must visit your doctor first. Ask them for reputable sperm donation clinics in your area.
Danny Potter on October 11, 2019:
I have 144 Iq , but am 42. I don’t so much want money . Is it possible to donate sperm and be part of the child’s life.
Pradeep on July 30, 2019:
Contract num. And addresses
Nitesh Awasthi on June 14, 2019:
Iam 26 job
PARDEEP Kumar on May 30, 2019:
Hi I want to know how is starting this type of work
Meredith Davies (author) on May 15, 2019:
As stated in the article, you will need to go to your doctor and they will recommend a reputable clinic in your area.
Then there will be months of screening and paperwork to ascertain if you are a suitable donor. They will check your health, education level and family history.
If they determine that you could be a suitable donor, then they will ask you to be a donor. It is a lengthy process.
Meredith Davies (author) on March 07, 2019:
As I explained in the article, you will first need to find a clinic in your area. There will be a lengthy screening process to determine if you will be eligible to donate.
The prices paid will vary depending on your area. Ask your local doctor to recommend a reputable clinic so you can begin the process.
Satyaranjanbarik on March 07, 2019:
How to do sperm ND how much money give me one time