Give Up The Spunk
A day in the life of a sperm donor

There I was at an unassuming office building near campus in Berkeley, California, feeling aches in my groin from not having whacked off for the past 48 hours because I was saving myself for my first trip to the sperm bank.

See also...
... by Brian Whitty
... in the Crave section
... from November 23, 1999

The sperm bank was on the second floor. I told the receptionist I had an appointment and right away she told me I was in the wrong place. This was the client's check-in; there was a separate entrance for donors. How could she tell I wasn't eager to be a mom? Perhaps my scruffy beard gave me away.

I hurried back out into the hallway and ducked into the donor's entrance. A lady clinician in a white lab coat told me I would have to wait, and led me through a winding corridor past the same agitated receptionist to a room full of stuffed toys. I waited there for about 10 minutes, gazing at charts showing gestation from zygote to baby.

The clinician found me dozing off, took me to her office to fill out forms, then explained that today I would give the first of three samples for them to test. If my ejaculate were worthy, with enough motile sperm that could withstand being stored at 196 degrees, then I would be accepted as a donor. They would pay $50 a pop, and could I commit to at least a year of giving sperm once a week? I did the math in my head -- almost 2,600 hours of abstinence. I'd be getting paid to not whack off!

The clinician raised an eyebrow and advised me of the identity-release program, which allows them to release a donor's name to any of his progeny when they turn 18. She also said that the number of successful inseminations per donor is limited to twelve. So much for my plan to single-handedly sire a whole generation of kids.

It was time for me to jack off. There were three little rooms by the lab, each furnished with a futon. I chose the middle room. The clinician told me to wash my hands and my penis, and she gave me a sticker with my code number -- 55582 -- to affix to the sterile cup when I was finished with it.

She left me to my business. I stripped off my pants and sat on the edge of the futon. It smelled like rising dough and was too much like a hospital in there, keeping me flaccid. Fortunately, there was a bin full of porn, some of it glossy titty mags, some of it gay porn -- reflecting the demographic of donors who were, like me, mostly guys making extra money for college. After I found stimulation in the pages of Playgirl, it didn't take me long. When I was done, I eyed my specimen in the cup. It looked so small and helpless, like a booger, and I prayed that it would meet the clinic's standards, that there would be abundant sperm with the motility of lemmings.

I was happy about the prospect of a supplemental income, but what really stuck in my head after I left the sperm bank was the identity-release issue. I suppose that as a gay guy, I could put my biological clock on snooze forever, but some part of me really does want to have a kid or two out there. If I were an anonymous donor, would giving sperm just seem like a two cents' contribution to the gene pool, like blowing a dandelion into the wind?

I'd rather be an identity-release donor. I bet they have a smug sense of anticipation. I envision a motherly type basting herself with my thawed manhood, the spunkiest sperm among them wriggling furiously up her fallopian tube like the Little Engine That Could and getting lucky with a big moony egg deep inside her. The resultant embryo, bundled with my traits and hers, would be full of possibilities. I felt heartache about missing the glow of its infancy, never getting a chance to shop for it, just having it in the back of my mind until eighteen years down the road, it comes knocking on my door asking for money for college.

Brian Whitty is a writer and occasional performer at San Francisco spoken word clubs.