Causes & Treatment

Stay cool, guys! Everything to know about shipping donor sperm

Emma Harpham in partnership with ARKCryo  |  8 Feb 2024


There’s lots of information (and a great deal of misinformation, too) to be found online about sperm shipping – and shipping donor sperm, in particular. 

Reliable, up-to-date information you can trust is always best sourced direct from the experts. So today, we’re back partnering with the fantastic team at ARKCryo, to unpack everything there is to know about shipping donor sperm. 

With 10 years of experience across an impressive array of different cyroshipping services, they’re world-leaders when it comes to sending sperm, as well as shipping sperm internationally

We caught up with ARKCryo’s CEO Peter Hura to answer some of the most-Googled questions, including;

  • The possibilities around shipping fresh sperm 
  • Keeping sperm cool, during shipment and storage 
  • Sending your sperm in the mail
  • Shipping donor sperm to you, for home insemination
  • And more

Ready to dive in? Over to Peter.

Shipping donor sperm – fresh vs. frozen

Q: How long can sperm be stored for?

Fresh Sperm: Freshly collected sperm typically has a much shorter storage time, compared to frozen sperm. In a laboratory setting, fresh sperm can be viable for a few hours, usually up to 24 – 48 hours. 

The exact duration can vary based on factors like temperature, pH levels, and other specific conditions of the environment in which it is stored.

Frozen Sperm: Sperm can be frozen and stored for a more extended period, which can be crucial if you’re looking into fertility preservation, or to build your family using donor sperm. 

Cryopreservation (freezing) is a typical method used to store sperm for longer periods, often for many years at a time. Sperm banks routinely freeze and store sperm for future use.

Q: Can you ship fresh sperm? 

As we’ve mentioned, fresh sperm has quite a limited ‘shelf life’

It’s recommended to freeze sperm ahead of shipping, as this ensures the preservation of its quality, especially during long-distance transportation. 

And speaking of quality, it’s important to note that cryopreservation will not negatively affect the quality of sperm in any way – it just contributes to a longer safe storage time

frozen sperm shipping container

Shipping frozen sperm – the specifics

Q: What temperature does frozen sperm get shipped at?

The short answer: a cool −196°C! Let’s also talk a little about the cryopreservation process, and how we prepare the sperm for safe shipping. 

To start with, the sperm are exposed to a cryoprotectant – a chemical that protects them from cold damage. The sperm will then be cooled gradually (via a method known as ‘controlled−rate freezing’) until it reaches the optimum temperature.

This means that the sperm can then be transported and stored until it’s ready for use. 

Q: How exactly is sperm kept cool, during shipment and storage? 

Samples should be carried in specially designed containers designed to keep the temperature stable. 

When shipping sperm with ARKCryo, we’ll use dry shippers. These are containers that use a combination of liquid nitrogen and insulation material to keep the contents frozen. 

These containers are insulated, leak−proof, and can maintain a temperature of −196°C for several days.

Q: How much sperm can you send at one time?

With ARKCryo, you can send as much sperm as you need. 

Whether you’re planning to have back-to-back cycles of IVF abroad, or you’ve got donor sperm on ice that you need to move because you’re switching fertility clinics, we’ve got you covered.

Our small cryoshippers have a capacity of one and a half liters, which can store 21 to 24 straws. Each straw contains a single type of biomaterial.

If you need to send more, our larger cryoshippers have three and a half liters capacity. These can hold 112 to 115 straws.

couple researching shipping sperm internationally

Donor sperm shipping methods – what are the options?

Q: Can you send sperm in the mail?

Transporting donor sperm in the mail is technically possible – but it comes with quite a few complex legal and ethical considerations!

Successfully sending sperm by post needs careful attention to strict regulations and guidelines, including proper packaging and temperature control, accurate labelling, and thorough transportation protocols.

That’s why opting for the services of reputable cryoshipping companies like ARKCryo is a better choice for sperm transportation, ensuring that your sperm reaches its destination swiftly and safely, maintaining optimal condition for future use.

Q: Can you get donor sperm shipped to home?

When you’re looking into home insemination as part of your family-building journey, it’s generally not advisable to get donor sperm shipped to your home.

This is, in short, because transporting donor sperm requires exclusive transfer between clinics and medical institutions. 

The intricate nature of the process demands strict adherence to specific policies, the right supporting documentation, and rigorous legal compliance. This is particularly key when it comes to shipping sperm internationally, too.

Q: Finally, what are the available methods for shipping sperm internationally?

If you’re looking into shipping sperm internationally, the go-to way is to ship sperm frozen, using specialized transportation services from pros like ARKCryo. 

When sending sperm internationally, we make the process worry-free, including prepping all the necessary documents for you and shielding the cryoshippers from X-ray scans.

Get started with ARKCryo

That’s a wrap! The expert 101 on shipping donor sperm.

ARKCryo has you covered, when it comes to safe, reliable and speedy options for donor sperm shipping.

Connect with them today to find out more about their bespoke options, and get a pricing breakdown as well as a 10% discount for your next order.

Want to learn more about cryoshipping? Read this next: Thinking about transporting frozen embryos? Ask these 6 questions, first

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