Let’s not beat around the bush here – yes, self-insemination works! Lesbian couples and single women often use this method to conceive with donor sperm selected online or from a sperm bank. Infertile couples often choose to perform at-home insemination too.
Self-insemination is a very common procedure, mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t require a visit to a fertility clinic (making it much cheaper) and instead can be performed in an intimate environment of your choice (aka your home).
So yes, you have a fairly good chance of getting pregnant via self-insemination, as long as the sperm used is of good quality and you don’t have any fertility or health issues that could prevent you from conceiving.
What are self-insemination, intracervical insemination and intravaginal insemination?
It’s highly possible that you already know what self-insemination is, but it’s always good to get a little reminder. And if you’re feeling a bit lost amongst all these new technical terms, don’t worry – we’ll explain everything!
In short, self-insemination (also called at-home insemination or DIY insemination) is when a woman artificially inseminates herself with sperm from her donor or partner.
Intracervical insemination (ICI) or intravaginal insemination (IVI) are two methods of artificial insemination that you can perform at home. ICI is when the sperm is inserted next to the cervix, while, with IVI, semen is placed anywhere in the vagina.
So how does it work? Basically, you insert the semen inside your vagina using a sterile syringe without a needle (some people prefer to use an instead cup). Opting for this method allows you to facilitate the encounter between the spermatozoids and the egg, without involving sexual intercourse, which is obviously ideal when you’re in a lesbian relationship or single.
How well does self-insemination work?
As self-insemination is performed in the privacy of people’s homes, gauging success rates is complicated. However, according to a study published in Human Reproduction, women undergoing ICI have a 37.9% chance of conceiving after six treatment cycles.
Success rates depend largely on the fertility and age of the woman, as well as the sperm donor. As you may know, a woman’s fertility gradually decreases with age and, by 40, her chances of pregnancy are much lower than they were at 25. Therefore, the younger you are the easier it should be to become pregnant.
That being said, it’s still possible to conceive in your late 30s or even after 40. Many older women successfully have a baby naturally or via fertility treatments such as artificial insemination or IVF.
So what can I do to improve my chances of pregnancy?
Now you know that self-insemination actually does work, but it’s still important to understand how to maximise your chances of getting pregnant via this method. Here’s a little step-by-step guide that should help:
First of all, we recommend that you pay a visit to your doctor or gynaecologist to check your fertility and if everything is working well. Also ensure that your sperm donor is healthy, free of any STDs, infectious or genetic diseases, and that their sperm is of good quality (sperm count, motility, shape, etc.).
Next, you must monitor your ovulation to know when to inseminate yourself. To do so, you can, for instance, use an ovulation calculator online. However, we highly recommend that you also use an at-home ovulation predictor kit and chart your basal body temperature every day.
To increase your chances of becoming a mother, you should try to stay in as good shape as possible. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, sticking to a balanced diet, reducing your consumption of alcohol and quitting smoking have all shown to improve the likelihood of pregnancy occurring.
Additionally, since we know that stress can reduce fertility, doing meditation, yoga or another relaxation technique could also help.
The next step is to obtain the right equipment. This includes items such as:
- A sterile and needleless syringe (from 2 to 5 ml) to insert the sperm into the vagina (turkey basters are too big).
- A container for semen, such as a collection cup.
- Towels, baby wipes and tissues.
Now that you have everything you need, and you know your most fertile window, it’s time to perform the insemination. Here’s how:
- If you’re using fresh semen from a donor, collect the sample with a container such as a collection cup. If your donor is providing the sample at your place, make sure that he has everything that he needs. If you’re using a frozen sample, carefully follow the instructions written on your notice.
- Carefully place the semen into the syringe.
- Slowly press the plunger of your syringe into your vagina until it’s completely empty. Wait for about 15 seconds before removing the syringe.
- Having an orgasm may help the semen to travel.
- Lie down for about 15-30 minutes and keep your hips raised up with a pillow. This will help the semen to stay in place and reach the eggs.
If this doesn’t work the first time, keep trying. Although some women are lucky enough to get pregnant on their first cycle, this is not the case for everyone. You’ll likely have to try several times before successfully conceiving. Stay hopeful and be patient!