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So you want to be a sperm donor?

In a recent article in the New York Times the process of sperm banking was described in a fairly whimsical way, but the real bizarreness of the business could be found between the lines. Apparently sperm banks compete with one another as they go to all kinds of lengths to tout the quality of their donors:

“It’s kind of an arms race,” explains William Jaeger, director of Fairfax Cryobank, in Fairfax, Va., which, along with California Cryobank, based in Los Angeles, is among the largest sperm banks in the country.

“One year someone adds a personality profile, the next year someone adds something else,” Mr. Jaeger says. “If one of your competitors adds a service, you add a service.”

Certain donor profiles are particularly popular, making it difficult for the supplier to keep up with the demand.

The most-requested donor is of Colombian-Italian and Spanish ancestry, is “very attractive, with hazel eyes and dark hair,” and, Ms. Bader adds, is “pursuing a Ph.D.”

The bank’s files have one man, Donor 1913, who fits that description.

Donor 1913, the staff notes in his file, is “extremely attractive,” adding in a kind of clinical swoon, “He has a strong modelesque jaw line and sparkling hazel eyes. When he smiles, it makes you want to smile as well.”

Donor 1913 is an all-around nice guy, they say. “He has a shy, boyish charm,” the staff reports, “genuine, outgoing and adventurous.”

He also answers questions, including, “What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?”

Donor 1913 relates an incident that occurred when he asked his girlfriend’s mother to step on his stomach to demonstrate his strong abdominal muscles.

“As she stepped on top of my stomach, I passed gas,” he writes.

Is Don Juan the gas-passer also the most popular donor at Fairfax Cryobank?

The sperm banks say that they only accept 1-3% of donors, but the criteria that I could glean from the article seemed to be:

  1. You’re not overweight
  2. You’re tall (unless you’re a doctor or a lawyer, then you can be as short as 5’7” to 5’8”)
  3. You’ve got a college degree
  4. You have high SAT scores
  5. You are good looking
  6. You have healthy sperm

Apparently, the most requested sperm donor in one of the California banks is a tall man who was in college at the time of his donations, but who later dropped out and took up residence in a mobile home park and made a living walking other people’s dogs.

So, who were the other 97% who didn’t make the cut?

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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