Frequently Asked Questions

How can I become a donor?

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Where can I receive information about donor sperm?

Please refer to our website for Cryobiology for all donor sperm information and a donor catalog 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 have had his sperm processed, frozen, and stored at Pittsburgh Cryobank or had his sperm processed and frozen at another facility and subsequently transferred to Pittsburgh Cryobank 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 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. There is a fee for storage billed to your credit card on a monthly basis. There is also a one-time fee for viral disease testing, which must be performed during the first appointment. 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 at 412-687-0335. 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. We charge storage fees on a monthly basis, billed to your credit card.

When are appointments scheduled?

Appointments for andrology and sperm banking services are scheduled M-F 8:00am-2:00pm. Appointments for potential 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)?

As a lab, we only perform tests and release results, we do not interpret them. Your physician will review your test results and determine whether or not your results fall within normal range for your particular situation. Your physician can then make a diagnosis, prescribe treatment, or determine if further evaluation is needed based on the results.

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

Unfortunately, most infertility-based procedures are not covered by insurance. 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?

We suggest 2-5 days abstinence based on the World Health Organization recommendations 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?

We have private collection rooms at the laboratory. Client depositors can choose to collect at home, but the sample must be delivered to our laboratory within 30 minutes of collection. Directed donors and sperm donors must collect their samples at the laboratory.

The sample should be collected by masturbation without the use of lubricants and placed into a sterile container. Most lubricants are toxic to sperm cells and will affect the quality of the sample. Repeat collections may be required for sperm cryopreservation or other andrology testing if lubricants are used or suspected. Sterile collection containers can be obtained at Pittsburgh Cryobank or from your physician’s office.

Masturbation is the recommended form of collection, in order to ensure that the complete ejaculate is collected into the specimen container.  If the sample is collected by any method other than masturbation, there is no way to be certain the complete ejaculate will 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 laboratory.

How long can my sperm remain frozen in liquid nitrogen?

Most scientific data suggest that sperm can be stored in liquid nitrogen indefinitely. All cellular processes cease at liquid nitrogen temperatures, so the cells remain in a state of “suspended animation” until thawed.

How can my frozen sperm be used in the future?

Because sperm counts vary from person to person and from sample to sample, there are different processing methods that may be used resulting in different types of vials frozen based upon results of each semen analysis. 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. Your physician can determine what type of procedure should be used based on the number of vials you have in storage and the total number of sperm cells available.

  1. IUI vial -IUI (intrauterine insemination) vials are used when your physician is going to perform an IUI.  Your physician will monitor the recipient’s menstrual cycle and when the potential for fertilization is optimal, the sperm will be inseminated into the recipient’s uterus.
  2. IVF vial-IVF (in vitro fertilization) vials are used in IVF procedures.  IVF is a fertilization procedure where the egg source is medically stimulated to produce multiple eggs during a single cycle. The eggs are collected and combined with the sperm in a container in the laboratory in hopes of fertilization and growth into an embryo that will then be transferred into the recipient or frozen for later use.
  3. ICSI vial-ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) vials are used in ICSI procedures. ICSI is a fertilization procedure similar to IVF, but instead of  combining the sperm and egg in a container, a single sperm is directly injected into each egg.  The benefit of ICSI is that only one sperm is needed per egg for fertilization.

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.