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When I say at-home insemination, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I’m hoping you’re not thinking about a turkey baster right now, but I’m not surprised if you are.
See, the thing about artificial insemination is that the train of thought about it seems to go one of two ways:
One, you’re thinking about something super clinical and “sciency-y.”
Or two, you’ve reverted to your middle school self and are giggling while you picture filling an actual kitchen tool with semen.
Technically, it’s a bit of both, but please, for the love of all things holy, leave your baster in the drawer and save it for Thanksgiving!
Many hopeful parents dreaming of starting a family use home insemination to conceive. From same-sex couples to partners with fertility issues related to sperm count and general sperm health, at-home insemination is a way to get one step closer to the baby you long for.
Unfortunately, many people often misunderstand the concept.
How does it work? Who needs it? Where does the sperm come from? And, most importantly, is it successful?
If you’re looking for the answers to questions like these, stick around. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about at-home insemination to help you decide whether the procedure might work for you.
What is At Home Insemination?
By definition, insemination is the “action of putting male sperm into a woman or female animal, either by sexual activity or an artificial method.”
Thank you, Cambridge University Press, for that eloquent synopsis.
So, technically, anytime you have sex that ends in ejaculation, you could consider it at-home insemination–I’m sure you’ve realized that’s not what we’re talking about, though.
At-home insemination involves placing a vial of “unwashed” sperm (meaning the sperm isn’t separated from the semen) directly into your vagina with a syringe.
During artificial insemination, you’re moving sperm from one person to another without actually doing the deed.
Are Intrauterine Inseminations and Home Inseminations the Same Thing?
During home insemination, you use a syringe to place the unwashed sperm into your vagina before it enters your cervix. With IUI, however, you’ll go to your doctor’s office and have washed sperm (sans semen) placed directly into your uterus with a catheter.
Who Needs to Use Artificial Insemination At Home?
While a wealth of trusted fertility treatments are available, not all are necessary for each infertility circumstance.
So, who would benefit from a home insemination process? Lots of people, actually!
- Same-Sex Couples: Home insemination is a valid alternative if neither partner in a same-sex relationship produces the seminal fluid required to make a baby.
- People with Sperm Issues: If your partner deals with male-factor fertility issues, i.e., low sperm count, motility, or quality, using donor sperm at home is an excellent treatment option.
- Single Women: Just because you haven’t found the perfect partner doesn’t mean you can’t have a baby on your own!
- Sexual Dysfunction Problems: Between 31 and 43% of people suffer from sexual dysfunction. Intracervical insemination can be a good option in situations like these.
Where Does the Sperm Come From?
Using a sperm bank is a popular option for people who require sperm donation to start their family. If you want to use your own donor specimen for the home insemination process, that’s possible, too!
Even if you suffer from sexual dysfunction and can’t ejaculate, there are ways to produce a sperm donation.
Some standard sperm retrieval techniques include:
- Penile Vibratory Stimulation
- Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE)
- Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA)
- Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (MESA)
One thing to consider is that these sperm retrieval techniques might be expensive, depending on insurance coverage. If you require something like this, you might have a better chance of success using IUI instead of home insemination.
Success Rates of Home Insemination – Is it Effective?
If you were having sex to try and conceive, you would have approximately a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month. Since home insemination is essentially the same thing (sperm entering the cervix), the success rates are similar.
What Are the Risk Factors of Home Insemination?
Here’s the cool thing about home insemination–it poses minimal risks if done correctly. You have few risks if you follow the guidance and direction of your medical care team.
If you don’t, you could experience adverse effects. Consider the topics below before starting your conception process:
1. Using the Right Materials to Avoid Infection
You could get an infection if you’re using a tool for your insemination that isn’t adequately sanitized (like that previously mentioned turkey baster you store in the kitchen drawer).
Whether you go through your doctor or purchase a home insemination kit online, ensure all items are sterilized and used correctly.
From collection cups to a needleless syringe, your best chance at avoiding infections is to keep things cleaned, organized, and protected.
2. Take the Right Paths to Get Sperm Samples
It’s crucial to go through proper channels to get sperm samples. Sure, the neighbor down the street might be willing to lend you a vial of his “product,” but there are no guarantees about the quality of the semen.
When you go through a licensed sperm donation facility, however, all donors will have undergone extensive screening protocols. This ensures there aren’t STDs, infections, diseases, or genetic conditions you should be aware of.
3. Make Sure It’s the Right Time for Your Insemination
It would be nice to try artificial insemination whenever the urge to do so strikes your fancy. Unfortunately, though, that will lead to wasted samples and money.
You can also talk to your doctor about fertility tracking and identifying the correct time to do your artificial home insemination.
What’s Included in a Home Insemination Kit?
Depending on how accurate you’d like to make your at-home IUI procedure, there are various types of home insemination kits available to fit your needs.
These can include items such as:
- Ovulation Test Strips
- Pregnancy Tests
- Fertility Monitors
- Speculums (used to help you locate your cervix)
Rather than spending extra money for an all-inclusive kit, many people opt to put them together themselves by shopping on sites like Amazon for home insemination products.
During my interview with the mom I mentioned earlier, she gave me another suggestion that I found brilliant!
She and her partner used a menstrual disc to help them complete their home insemination.
Her suggestion was to put the disc in for about an hour before you’re ready to perform the insemination. This way it has time to adjust to your body’s natural temperature. She also suggested using “Pre-Seed” fertility lubricant during insertion.
Once your specimen is ready, remove the disc and fill it with your sperm sample. Then reinsert it into your cervix and leave it there for a few hours, before removing it.
Following the Instructions: How Do You Use an At Home Insemination Kit?
So, you’ve collected sperm, tracked ovulation, and are ready to start the party – what happens next? Is there a “proper” way to inseminate yourself?
Of course, there is!
Before we get into the instructions, tips, and tricks for performing artificial inseminations at home, let’s chat about what you’ll likely find in a standard kit.
The most basic home insemination kit might only include a couple of items: a collection cup for the semen sample and a needless syringe. Some others offer various fertility tracking items, such as ovulation or FSH testing strips.
Now, what do you do with these items? Luckily, performing artificial insemination in the comfort of your own home is much easier than you might think.
The directions below will help you streamline the experience and ensure a successful transfer:
1. Thaw and Warm-Up Your Sperm Sample
I wouldn’t recommend putting frozen sperm into your cervix; it just won’t work for either transfer or insemination. On the other hand, though, don’t even think about putting your sample vial into the microwave or boiling water! That’s a great way to kill off all your precious sperm.
If you’re using a frozen sample, just set it on the counter for a half-hour and let it thaw, and come to room temperature. Once it’s thawed and resembles normal seminal fluid, you can draw it into the syringe you’ll use for the procedure.
You’ll want to place the tip directly into the sample and slowly pull up on the plunger to fill the syringe.
Hold the syringe between your hands or underneath your armpit for a couple of minutes to help raise it to a normal body temperature.
2. Get Into Your Insemination Position
You’ll want to get into a horizontal position with your hips raised for the procedure. Lie back on your bed and place pillows or blankets underneath your butt and hips. You’ll probably want to stay in this position for a bit, so make sure you’re comfortable.
3. Inject the Sample
Many modern insemination syringes closely resemble a tampon, making it much easier to figure out how to put it in. Just slowly insert the device into your vagina, up to the handles. When you’re ready, depress the plunger until all the semen is released.
4. Lie Down for At Least 15 Minutes
Let gravity do its job and stay in position (lie on your back with your hips propped up) for at least fifteen minutes after the home insemination is complete. Play music, turn on a podcast, or watch your favorite show while waiting.
Tips & Tricks for How to Make At-Home Insemination Successful
Home insemination doesn’t sound that difficult aside from the emotions that can come along with it.
I mean, when it comes down to it, it’s simply a matter of collecting the “goods” and putting them where they’re supposed to go…right?
This less-than-elegant description certainly highlights the basics of home insemination. But there’s actually more involved if you want to make your treatment a success.
If you want to know how to make home insemination successful, make sure to consider these home insemination tips before you get started.
Don’t be afraid to seek counseling if IUI or other methods of fertility aren’t working for you. Being supported during this process is so important!
#1: Have Everything Ready Ahead of Time
So, your partner or donor has done their part and provided a sample; now it’s your turn.
Don’t waste time fumbling around looking for things after you’re ready to get started. For one thing, you don’t want to tamper with the sample any more than necessary.
Plus, if you can’t find something you need, it’s just going to make you feel stressed, which isn’t going to make for a pleasant experience.
#2: Figure Out the Right Home Insemination Timing
In a perfect world, you and your partner could decide to try home insemination and get down to business whenever you want.
In reality, however, success depends on ovulation. And there are many ways to track ovulation!
Why waste quality sperm during the wrong time of the month?
If you’re hoping to get pregnant with home insemination, timing is everything. You’ll need to learn how to track your fertility to achieve the best possible outcome.
#3: Get Comfortable!
Here’s one of the advantages of using a home insemination kit: the process doesn’t have to be completely clinical.
Dim the lights, turn on some mood music, and find a comfortable place to do the deed. The more comfortable you are, the better chance you’ll have of being able to actually enjoy the process.
#4: Start a Steady Diet of “Fertility-Friendly” Foods
Why not consider adding some fertility-boosting foods to your diet in the weeks leading up to your IUI? Options like avocados, pineapple, and antioxidant-rich berries, have all been shown to positively impact a woman’s fertility.
What Happens After the Process is Complete?
I wish I could tell you that at-home insemination comes with instant results. Unfortunately, you’ll still have to deal with the dreaded two-week wait (TWW) before you find out if the procedure worked.
As much as I’d love to say you shouldn’t hyper-fixate on whether at-home insemination has resulted in a pregnancy, I’d be a hypocrite. I continually scanned my body for early signs of pregnancy in the first two weeks after our fertility treatments.
Do your best to busy yourself and find things to do during the TWW. Your anxiety levels will thank you for the distractions.
However, if you notice things like a missed menstrual cycle, mild cramping, sore boobs, or light spotting, these could indicate that at-home insemination sans turkey baster has worked.
Then, when your two weeks are up, please make an appointment with your doctor’s office and ask them for a blood pregnancy test!
What Kinds of Emotions Are Involved with At-Home Insemination?
When you’re trying to figure out everything that’s involved with the process and how to make home insemination successful, there’s bound to be a wide range of emotions you experience.
I recently had the opportunity to interview a lovely mom of 2 who’s in a same-sex marriage and used home insemination to conceive.
In speaking about the emotions she felt throughout the process, she said:
“The thing that felt the most stressful was that each insemination felt like high stakes. We had a limited resource so we were worried about getting the timing just right. We had a lot of anxiety about that, but also felt really excited with each attempt because it could be “the one,” so it was a mix of emotions.”
She also discussed the awkwardness of the process itself and the stress she and her partner felt in managing everything involved with their pregnancy process.
What I took from this conversation is that no emotion is wrong when using home insemination.
From awkwardness to excitement, you are bound to feel a plethora of different things, and that’s okay. All you can do is accept these emotions as they arrive and find ways of dealing with them healthily.
Another suggestion I received from our wonderful interviewee was to use counseling when necessary.
If the challenge of home insemination and fertility treatments are beginning to weigh on you and your partner, there’s no shame in seeking out professional help from a counselor that specializes in couple’s counseling or infertility.
Talk to Your Doctor to See if Artificial Insemination is the Right Choice for You
When talking about artificial inseminations at home, it’s easy to joke about turkey basters and the like. The thing to remember, however, is how vital and life-changing this process can be for anyone who dreams of having a baby but is facing a roadblock on their journey.
Whether you’re a same-sex couple or in a partnership where one person is suffering from sexual dysfunction, options like at home insemination are available to make conception possible. The amazing thing about home insemination is that it’s a simple, often affordable, and often successful path to parenthood.
Call your doctor if you’re wondering whether this fertility treatment opportunity is for you. They can review the information you need to make an educated choice for your family.
Are you thinking about at-home insemination? Do you have any concerns about the process?
FAQ About At-Home Insemination
When a couple or person can’t get pregnant through sexual intercourse, they can use alternative techniques, like syringes, to place semen into the vagina to conceive.
If you or your partner can’t produce sperm, licensed donation clinics can provide donor sperm from screened candidates.
Yes! As long as there are not sperm quality issues with your specimen, the chances of success are the same as they are through traditional intercourse.
Once you thaw out your semen sample, you’ll draw it up into a syringe and insert it into your vagina like a tampon. For the highest chance of success, you should lie on your back with your hips raised during the procedure.
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.