Frequently Asked Questions

How can I become a donor?

Please refer to Anonymous Donor Program.

Where can I receive information about donor sperm (donor list)?

You can receive all information regarding donor sperm, including a donor list at

What is a client depositor?

A client depositor is an individual storing his sperm samples for his own use in the future. A client depositor may be a male who has had his sperm processed, frozen, and stored at Pittsburgh Cryobank, Inc. or who has had his sperm processed and frozen at another facility and subsequently transferred to Pittsburgh Cryobank, Inc. for storage.

I want to store my own sperm for use in the future. What are the costs involved?

In order to store your sperm for your personal use in the future, you must obtain a physician’s referral and schedule an appointment. Please refer to Sperm Banking for a detailed explanation. Patients who store sperm for their exclusive use in the future are referred to as client depositors.

The Sperm Cryopreservation fee (see Fees) is applicable for each sample collected. This fee includes one year of storage. There is also a one-time fee for Viral Disease Testing, which must be performed during the first appointment.

Storage fees for subsequent years of storage are based on the total number of vials stored. See Fees for details.Note that prices are subject to change without prior notice.

I have a billing question. Who do I call?

If you have a question regarding why you were billed, contact Pittsburgh Cryobank, Inc. at the number on Contact Us. If you have a question regarding an invoice, please contact our business office at (614) 451-4375.

I purchased donor sperm from another facility, established a pregnancy, and my doctor’s office cannot store the remaining vial(s). Do you provide storage in this scenario?

Yes, Pittsburgh Cryobank provides storage for donor specimens from other sperm banks. An Annual Storage Fee, based on the number of vials in storage, applies (refer to Fees for details).

When are appointments scheduled?

Appointments for andrology and sperm banking services are scheduled M-F 8:00am-2:00pm. Appointments for potential anonymous donors are scheduled M-Th 8:00am-2:00pm. Please call (412) 687-0335 M-F 7:30am-4:00pm to schedule an appointment.

Why do I need a physician’s referral (prescription)?

State law requires that all lab results be released to the referring physician and not to the patient. As a lab, we only release results, we do not interpret them. Your physician must review the numerical values relevant to each parameter of a particular test ordered and then determine whether or not your values fall within normal range for your particular situation. He/She can then prescribe treatment or further evaluation based on the results.

Why do I have to pay during the time of my appointment? Can’t I use my insurance card?

Most infertility-based procedures are not covered by insurance. We have chosen not to contract with any insurance companies due to the low reimbursement rate. You must pay at the time of service; however, we will provide you with a receipt that you may submit to your insurance company for any applicable reimbursement.

Why is 2-5 days of abstinence recommended?

It typically takes your body 2 days after an ejaculation to replenish your sperm count to a “normal” value. However, the life span of a mature sperm cell within the body is about 5 days. After this time, the oldest cells begin to die, but more cells are continually produced. Periods of abstinence longer than 5 days will result in a higher number of TOTAL cells present, but the number of MOTILE cells will remain essentially the same. Your sperm motility may therefore be diminished due to more nonmotile sperm cells percent. We recommend 2-5 days abstinence in order to provide your physician with results that are most accurate for you. Your physician may request 2 semen analyses within a specified timeframe in order to more adequately ensure the results are a reflection of your “normal” values.

What are the collection procedures?

*Please note that anonymous and directed donors must collect their samples at Pittsburgh Cryobank, Inc.

We have private collection rooms with a chair, sink, and magazines provided. Client depositors can choose to collect at home, but the sample must be delivered to our laboratory within 30 minutes of collection (sterile collection containers my be obtained at Pittsburgh Cryobank, Inc. or from your physician’s office).

The sample should be collected by masturbation without the use of lubricants and into a sterile container. Most lubricants are toxic to sperm cells and will therefore affect the quality of the sample. Lubricants can also cause contamination of the sample and should especially be avoided for samples intended for insemination. Repeat collections may be required for sperm cryopreservation or other andrology testing if lubricants are used or suspected. If the sample is collected by any method other than masturbation, the first part of the sample, which generally contains the most sperm cells may be missed, resulting in a low sperm count.

It is also important that a complete sample be collected. A sample is considered complete if it is collected from the start to the finish of the ejaculation, regardless of the volume. Incomplete samples should be reported to the lab for the same reason as above.

How long can my sperm remain frozen in liquid nitrogen?

To the best of our knowledge, sperm can be stored in liquid nitrogen indefinitely. All cellular processes cease at liquid nitrogen temperatures. There is no cellular metabolism, no uptake of energy sources, and no excretion of waste products; the cells remain in a state of “suspended animation” until thawed. Without an “aging” process, the thawed cells are similar to those frozen. There will be some cells which do not survive the freezing and thawing process, however, those that survive are often the hardiest and most viable. There have been pregnancies reported using sperm that had been frozen and stored for up to 15 years.

How can my frozen sperm be used in the future?

Because sperm counts vary from male to male and from sample to sample, there are different processing methods used prior to cryopreservation, which result in different types of vials frozen based upon results of each semen analysis. Basically, our goal is to provide patients with as many high quality vials as possible from each sample collected.

There are generally 3 types of vials that can be frozen, and multiple types of vials can be frozen from one collection. The first type of vial is for artificial insemination. This is termed an IUI (IntraUterine Insemination ) or ICI (IntraCervical Insemination) type of vial. A physician will monitor the menstrual cycle of your partner, and, when the potential for fertilization is optimal, the physician will inseminate your sperm into your partner. This is the least expensive procedure of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). The second type of vial is used for In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures, and the third type of vials is used for IVF with IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). In either procedure, your partner undergoes a hormonal regimen whereby she is stimulated to produce multiple eggs during a single cycle. Just prior to ovulation, a physician will retrieve the eggs from your partner, either surgically or during an office visit. For IVF, the retrieved eggs are then combined with your sperm in a petri dish within the laboratory. For ICSI, one sperm is injected with a very fine needle into each mature egg retrieved. After 3-5 days, the resultant embryos are transferred back into your partner’s uterus. IVF and ICSI are more involved, more invasive procedures and are, therefore, more costly, but they require fewer total sperm cells than for insemination. For ICSI, the number of sperm required is equal to the number of eggs retrieved. Your physician will determine what type of procedure should be attempted, depending on the number of vials you have in storage and the total number of sperm cells available.

Should I address my frozen sperm in my will?

As a client depositor, frozen sperm is considered the producing male’s property. For use, shipment, transfer, or thawing of any vials, we require the client depositor’s written, notarized permission. You are required to address disposition of your sperm upon your death as part of the storage contract we provide. We will follow the information on the disposition form in the event of your death. You can change this information at any time. Addressing use of your frozen sperm in a will is suggested in addition to the information you have provided us. If you choose to address it, please be sure that the information we have on file corresponds to anything you have stated in a will. You may choose to consult an attorney.

What information does a semen analysis provide?

A semen analysis will include a measurement of the volume, analysis of the viscosity, and percentage of non-liquefaction of the semen sample. It also includes the density, forward progression, and activity of the sperm cells. The number of round cells present and any cell to cell agglutination is also noted. We cannot tell you whether your sample is within normal ranges or release results to you. We only report results to the referring physician who will interpret our findings.

Besides sperm banking, what other tests do you perform?

We perform a variety of infertility/andrology testing which includes semen analysis, sperm viability, and sperm morphology to name a few. For a more comprehensive list of testing services, please see Andrology Services.