using a known sperm donor

Sometimes, the sperm of a man who is not a woman’s sexual partner is wanted to initiate a pregnancy. In this case, the conception will not be achieved through intercourse. In theory, in some of these situations, the fresh sperm could be taken and placed inside the woman’s vagina. These are referred to as self-inseminations. (Many sexually intimate couples have achieved pregnancies this way, especially in situations where the man has issues with erections or intravaginal ejaculation).

However, legally, a physician cannot be involved in the transfer of fresh sperm from a man who is not the sexually intimate partner of a woman. In fact, for the sperm to be legally used in many states, the man needs to be tested for genetic diseases and sexually transmitted infections. Also, he needs to undergo a full physical exam and medical history. Assuming all is well, the sperm are then frozen and kept (“quarantined”) for a minimum of six months, and then the man is retested for the sexually transmitted infections. This quarantine and retesting ensures that the man did not have an infection, at the time of the sperm production that would not yet have shown up in his testing; this infection could put the female recipient as well as the ensuing fetus at risk.

In New York State, the license and process for banking directed donor sperm is the same as it is for anonymous sperm donation. Maze Cryobank has this license, and does sperm banking for directed donors on a regular basis.

Indications for banking sperm as a directed donor

There are several reasons to obtain sperm from a designated donor:

  • A man produces no sperm, and a known man (usually a relative, sometimes a friend) is chosen to donate his sperm. Depending on the quality of the sperm, IUI’s may be done, but sometimes IVF is needed.
  • Lesbian couples or individuals want to select a known man to be the biological father of their (her) child or children.
  • Gay men will usually undergo surrogacy to achieve a conception. Usually donor eggs are used. The eggs are then fertilized using IVF. The embryos are then transferred into the uterus of a woman who is different than the egg donor, who carries them through a pregnancy. The laws of surrogacy are rapidly changing and different in many states and countries. Some programs do not require men wishing to pursue surrogacy to go through the process of banking their sperm as a designated donor. However, the laws are in flux, and some programs do require this, as an embryo conceived with his sperm will be placed in a surrogate who is thus theoretically at risk for a sexually transmitted infection. The safest course for gay men is to bank the sperm as designated donors, though in certain situations this may turn out to be unnecessary, as regular banking (which is simpler and cheaper) would have been adequate.

What is the process of banking sperm as a directed donor?

This process has many steps and will be reviewed with you at the time of scheduling your appointment. However, the following is an overview of the process:

  • A specific contract is signed by both the sperm donor, and if known at the time of the banking, the recipient and (if applicable) her partner.
  • A full physical exam must be done during the banking process.
  • Genetic testing is performed.
  • Infectious disease studies are performed, the day of a man’s first banking.  All specimens must be produced no more than one week after this testing. Thus, to maximize the number of specimens that can be banked, with the least amount of testing, the man is usually encouraged to bank frequently over the course of the 7 days following his first banking. 
  • The sperm are collected and processed similarly to any specimen processed for sperm cryobanking (see above.) However, the sperm are then “quarantined” for a minimum of six months, and the man re-tested for sexually transmitted infections, prior to the sperm being released for use.
  • An individual or couple, with their female infertility specialist, can request a waiver of the six months, and ask that the sperm be released early, which can often legally be done. However, the remaining sperm vials (those that were not released early) cannot be kept in long term storage if the man does not repeat the infectious disease testing a minimum of six months after the last banking.

Why does Maze offer directed donor sperm banking, despite its complexity?

At Maze we believe that all individuals who desire to be parents should have the means available to them. Donor sperm, directed donor sperm, donor eggs, surrogacy, donor embryos, and advanced reproductive techniques are all tools available for couples or individuals to fulfill their dreams. We feel that as a medical community, these must all be available, and thus we are one of the few banks that has taken on this project.


There are numerous considerations that come into play in choosing a sperm bank. These include:

  • Safety of your specimens — separated into different tanks, each with constant monitoring
  • Clinical expertise of director — both from a scientific point of view, and a clinical point of view
  • Location and convenience

Specimen Safety

Specimens stored in two different tanks:

Almost all of our patients bank multiple vials. For virtually all of the patients, some of your vials will be kept in a tank in our Westchester office, and the rest in our NYC office. Though tank malfunctions are extremely rare, having two tanks builds in an extra safety net in case of an unforeseen disaster, either to a particular tank or a particular location.

Tank Monitoring:

It is highly recommended that the status of each and every tank be monitored continuously. Some labs have no tank monitoring, except periodic manual checks.

At Maze, each tank is continuously monitored 24/7/365. If the temperature or level falls, an alarm goes off, which then phones our lab technician or physician on call. The alarm system has a battery backup, and a generator back up as well.

We would suggest you ask any sperm bank you are thinking of using how they monitor their tanks.

Clinical Expertise

Clinical Expertise:

Michael A. Werner, MD, the owner and Medical Director of Maze, is a board certified urologist, with a fellowship in male infertility, andrology, and male sexual dysfunction. He supervises the entire process of sperm banking, including helping decide how many vials to divide a particular specimen into, and how many times a man should bank. He works closely with the female infertility specialist when it comes time to use the vials. This comes from his knowledge base in the field of fertility as well as in his scientific knowledge of sperm production, analysis, processing, and freezing. His knowledge also often comes into play in situations where men have problems producing specimens.

Location & Convenience


Maze Labs has two locations. One is in Westchester County (right by the intersections of I-95, I-287, and the Hutchinson River Parkway.) The second is at 633 3rd Avenue (between East 40th and 41st Streets, three blocks from Grand Central Station in New York City).


We have early morning and evening hours Monday-Friday. It is often important to get several specimens banked quickly before treatment begins. We go out of our way to make sure you can do this.

Contact us with questions or to schedule an appointment.