What happens to samples at Bellevue Sperm Bank?

What Happens to Donations at Bellevue Sperm Bank?

The donors at Bellevue Sperm Bank commit to weekly visits for at least 6 months and give intended parents a chance to start and expand their families. Donations are collected, washed, processed, frozen, and shipped around the world. But how does this all happen?

We are going to take a look at how donations get from donor to intended parent at Bellevue Sperm Bank.

Donor Collection

Donors visit in person up to 3 times per week to give donations at the Bellevue Lab. Donors are compensated $100 per donation, and samples are then analyzed by the Bellevue Lab Team. 

In The Lab

The team gets to work right away with a semen analysis on each sample. This is to ensure that the sperm counts, and other factors make the sample suitable for treatment. If the sample has a very high sperm count it may be frozen right away without any further processing. Other samples will be washed by using a centrifuge and then frozen.

Into the Cold

The freezing process keeps the sperm preserved until treatment use. Samples are kept frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196C (-321F). Frozen samples are then stored for 6 months, as required by the FDA. Properly stored samples can be preserved indefinitely.

Six Months Later

Every sample is stored in quarantine for 6 months while the donor is screened and tested for different STIs. Some infectious diseases such as HIV can take months before showing a positive on a blood test, so in an abundance of caution, samples are not released until the donor has shown negative testing results before collection and again after 6 months.

Samples are frozen onsite at Bellevue Sperm Bank but are kept in long-term storage in Seattle.


Once samples have been cleared from quarantine, they are ready to be used in treatment. Samples are requested by intended parents and get shipped to fertility clinics or doctor offices. Samples must remain frozen until treatment, so they are shipped out in specialized tanks that maintain the low temperatures. The tanks can only keep the samples safely frozen for about a week or two (depending on the tank size) so getting them to the clinic in time is key.

Perks for Donors?

If you are accepted into the donor program, each donation is compensated $100, and you receive access to routine health screening that includes STI testing. Additionally, sperm donations help people who are missing a sperm source in their family-building goals. This can include two Mom families, single Mom families, and men with male factor infertility. The number of donors needed has grown over time and there is currently a shortage of available sperm donors in the US.

If you think you have what it takes to help, you can get started today with an online application. If you have any questions about becoming a sperm donor you can reach out to our Donor Coordinator at (206)588-1484 or [email protected].