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Getting Paid to Jerk Off Isn’t All It's Cracked Up to Be

Sperm donation is an easy way to make money, but it'll make you feel judged, ruin your sex life, and haunt you with the idea that you could have genetic offspring out there somewhere.

by Justin Caffier
May 27 2015, 5:35pm

Photo by Flickr user seeingimonkey

These days, reproductive technology is rapidly changing the way we make babies. There are artificial testicles, artificial wombs, and the very creepy possibility of "single parent reproduction" on the horizon. But for now, advances in reproductive technology notwithstanding, you still need the same basic building blocks to create life. And for couples who need some splooge, there are young, broke, and virile guys out there like me dropping loads off at the sperm bank.

There's a point in every young man's life when he learns about being paid to masturbate into a cup. Almost inevitably, said young man will crack the same joke: "They pay you to jack off? I could've been a millionaire by now!" before laughing himself into a seizure.

After I'd moved to a new city and was struggling for money, I was lured in by the siren song of cash-for-cum. But it wasn't the carefree spank-bank scenario I'd imagined. I lasted only a few months through the rigorous sperm donation process. Sperm donation has been on the rise since the 2010 recession, likely because people view it as an easy way to make a few bucks. But take my advice and think twice before diving into the frozen gene pool.

Photo by Flickr user seeingimonkey

You'll Be Judged For Your Looks, Your Health, and Your Sexual Preferences

As sperm banks are businesses seeking profits, there are limits on who they can allow into their programs as donors. My cryobank only accepted university-educated men over 5'9" with no family history of illness. These are reasonable stipulations, I suppose. Sometimes, though, the reasons for donor ineligibility can be a bit arbitrary or prejudiced. Recently, the largest sperm bank in the world, Cryos International, enacted a moratorium on donations from redheads in a move that seems more rooted in aesthetic eugenics more than overarching concern with ensuring a healthy, intelligent baby. Then there's the FDA's painting with a broad stroke policy of banning gay men from donations out of a concern for the potential transmission of HIV to the prospective mother. Sure, such a worry could be handled in a less bigoted way like with, say, regular blood checks at three-month intervals for donors and once again upon their exiting of the program, but that's why I'm not a politician or a cryobank scientist.

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Assuming you do meet the criteria, you still can't just show up with a diploma and medical record and start popping off rounds. No, if you plan to get into this line of work, plan on a month of tests, a trial jizz, and waiting to see if you made the cut before you see one red cent of pay.

My application process at my southern California bank went like this: I applied online and received a phone call a day later. During this call, I set up an in-clinic appointment to fill out paperwork, give blood, and turn over a sample of DNA. The next week, at my scheduled appointment, I did all those things and the staff set an appointment for me with a third-party physician for a full physical and check up. The following week, I went to my physical and the doctor told me all was well and that he'd be contacting the sperm bank to give them the affirmative. A few days later, CCB rang to tell me I could start my donations. I went in the next day to donate. I received $100 for that first donation two weeks later.

Photo by Flickr user seeingimonkey

The "Reference Material" Sucks

At this point in my life, I'd like to think I've embraced the ancient Greek maxim of "know thyself." This is especially true when it comes to what gets me off. I've been jerking off for a larger percentage of my life than I haven't—so if there's a carnal itch buried in the folds of my brain, I've scratched it. Unfortunately, the cryobank's masturbation aid offering came in the form of two just-able-to-be-called-"hardcore" porno DVDs that were more like a time capsule than jerking fodder. Vaseline-smeared lenses, cheesy music, and added-in-post coos and moans were on the menu. I'm accustomed to seeing winking assholes shot in 4K RED, so my internet-refined palate was having none of their sad, old porn.

In my research before beginning my donations, I'd learned the first sperm bank was founded in 1952. I hadn't expected the porn my bank provided to be from that era, too. But I suppose a sperm bank's only responsibility is to keep up with the latest in cryogenics tech, as opposed to the latest trends in facesitting. Why would they care about pleasing me, if I couldn't make it work, another jerkoff would gladly take my spot.

Photo by Flickr user seeingimonkey

Jerking Into a Cup Is Awkward

Masturbation never looks cool unless you're a porn star. As guys, we tend to turn into hunched, jaw-clenching simians the moment an incognito window opens, only to return to our (shameful) higher selves upon release. Beating off in, essentially, a doctor's office ratchets the latent discomfort of masturbation up to a whole new level.

On Motherboard: All that sitting on your ass and watching TV is not good for your sperm count.

The act itself was pretty by-the-books, since this bank didn't have one of those fancy Chinese sperm extractors. Instead of catching the glob with a tissue, as I would do during a recreational wank, I had to position a tiny little Styrofoam cup above my dick. Then, with a flick of the wrist that would impress even a seasoned flair bartender, I flipped the cup right-side up before any little Justin homunculi could escape with the aid of gravity.

I left my cup on a tray and walked out by the very cute receptionist to sign something. You'd think that having an attractive staff member there would help with the proceedings, and maybe it did for some people, but for me, it was just another pair of eyes to avoid contact with before I shook off the weirdness of that day's donation.

It Will Kill Your Sex Life

This is the dirty little secret of the sperm donation racket that nobody wants to talk about: You're often required to make a minimum of a donation a week to your bank. But if you're donating sperm because you desperately need the money (like I was), then you'll likely be trying to take full advantage of the three days a week maximum number of donations allowed. During my donating days, I was going in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I had to space my visits two days apart because, in order to build up an adequate sperm count, one must abstain from ejaculation for at least 48 hours between donations. In other words: All my orgasms belonged to the sperm bank.

Well, that's not entirely true. I had maybe a few hours after each donation to try and squeeze in sex. Or all of Friday after that day's donation until midday Saturday, when the 48 hour counter would begin again in anticipation of Monday's donation. Ever wake up horny and want a quickie with your lady friend before work? Too bad. Want to rub one out in bed at night to help yourself get to sleep? Too bad. Nothing would be worse than fucking up your sperm count and then going in to donate only to post low numbers and get denied that $100 check and actually lose money from gas and a two-hour commute back and forth through shitty LA traffic.

Photo by Flickr user seeingimonkey

You Could Unknowingly Father a Child

Obviously, this is the whole point of going to the sperm bank—you're helping make other peoples' reproductive dreams come true. Still, it's pretty weird to know that your hapless masturbation into a Styrofoam cup could turn into a bouncing baby (or, in some cases, many, many bouncing babies). As cool as you try to play it, there's always going to be a nagging curiosity about whether or not one has genetic offspring out there in the world. I can't speak to the policies of other banks, but my sperm bank does not tell the donor when and if their sperm is used. Could there be dozens of little Justins running around out there right now? Unlikely. But it's feasible that I've sired a kid or two that I'll never meet.

Beyond the fear of the unknown, there are practical concerns about sending your sperm off to make a baby. One of the first things I made sure to check on before I decided to donate was that I wouldn't be on the hook for child support some distant day in the future. I was signing away my rights to be in these hypothetical children's lives, but the law is still somewhat shaky on the financial particulars of these things. The California laws were pretty ironclad that I wasn't going to be getting an invoice in the mail down the road, but

Photo by Flickr user seeingimonkey

cases in other states have resulted in donors being forced to pony up child support dough after making donations.

It'll Make You Question Your Own Fertility

My time as a sperm donor came to as unceremoniously abrupt end as each of my individual donations. One day I received a call informing me that my "numbers were a bit odd." What did that mean? Was I sick? Did they discover some hereditary disease in my cum? I was reassured that I'd be informed if they became aware of any health issues while dealing with my seed there at the lab—but they still wanted to run another blood test and see what was up.

I went into the lab for an unpaid donation and blood draw a few days later. Then, about a week later I received a letter in the mail saying I was no longer part of the program. No explanation as to why. Just a "so long, and thanks for all the jizz." As I'm still alive and healthy today, according to my doctor, I can only assume it was something relatively benign, like pH balance or viscosity, that got me booted from the program. But the fact that I don't really know what went wrong haunts me to this day.

Whatever the reason, it turned out to be a barely-disguised blessing. The rigmarole of sperm donation just isn't worth all the stress and lost love, despite the attractive financial carrot these cryobanks dangle in front of your dongle. Every man has to blaze their own path, but my advice is to skip the hand jobs and keep searching for a real job.

Thumbnail photo by Flickr user Mobilus In Mobili.

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