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What is intrauterine insemination?
Intrauterine insemination is also known as artificial insemination or IUI. Human artificial insemination with another person's sperm began being used in the 1940s. The IUI procedure can be an effective treatment for some causes of infertility or being used for other reasons such as in some LGBTQ pregnancies and/or when a partner producing sperm is unavailable. AI is usually done by a doctor, but there are alternative ways to do DIY artificial insemination at home.
How can I try artificial insemination at home?
The Turkey Baster Method is the most common way of artificial insemination to get pregnant via artificial insemination at home. More often than not you do NOT actually use a turkey baster but instead, a disposable syringe.
What supplies do I need?
You need the following supplies for artificial insemination at home:
- A needleless syringe or oral medicine syringe (instead of the turkey baster)
- Collection cup, baggy or condom
- Saline without additives or preservatives (optional)
- Tube to attach to a syringe (optional)
- Mild germicidal soap (optional)
You can ask your doctor for a needleless syringe or you can buy an oral medicine syringe at just about any pharmacy. Select a 4-inch syringe with a plunger, not a bulb end. The oral medicine syringes have about a half-inch narrow tip on the end. You can attach a catheter (thin tube) to the syringe but you don't need to and it may waste more of the semen to use one.
1. Take a clean or sterile glass or plastic cup, baggy, or collection condom and have the male ejaculate into it. Do NOT use a regular condom because it may contain chemicals that kill sperm. There are special collection condoms for this purpose that do not have sperm-killing chemicals.
You'll probably have better luck getting the semen out of a cup since you could suck the baggy or condom up to the syringe and block the opening, but you may get a larger sample with the baggy or the special collection condom. You can use a tiny bit of saline, without additives/preservatives, to help get as much sperm as possible into the syringe, but you don't need to worry too much about leaving a little behind. If you are using frozen sperm, you need to ask the sperm bank for directions on thawing.
2. Draw back on the syringe once with nothing but air, then push the air out again.
3. Draw back on the syringe again, but this time keep the end of it in the semen — the vacuum created by pulling back on the stopper will suck the semen into the syringe.
4. Try to tap out any air bubbles since you don't want to inject air into your vagina. You can do this by slowly rotating the syringe until the opening is facing up. Tap the air bubbles to the top and then push the plunger in on the catheter just a small amount — enough to get rid of air without squirting any semen out.
5. Get into a position where you can stay comfortably for a half-hour or can get into the position with minimal movement. It is ideal to either have hips raised or to lay on your side making sure your pelvis is canted (usually hips provide a natural angle if your hips are wider than your waist, but if your bed, or wherever you are lying, is soft, you may want to put a pillow or two underneath your hip).
6. Slowly glide the syringe, or catheter, into the vagina until it is close to the cervix — but do not try to get it into the cervix, and do this gently. Your goal is to coat the outside of the cervix and deposit as much sperm as possible as close to the cervix as you can get it.
7. SLOWLY inject sperm. If you do it too fast, it can squirt out of the vagina or at least spray away from the cervix.
8. If you are concerned about wastage in the syringe, you can use some saline, without additives . . . add some to the syringe, shake it a bit, get the air out, and inject. This is not necessary since there probably won't be enough wastage to be of concern.
9. Try to have an orgasm. Some suggest that using a vibrator for clitoral stimulation produces a bigger, more powerful orgasm. Use whatever method works best for you (unless it requires lots of water). The orgasm helps the cervix dip into the vaginal pool and suck up sperm — it helps get more sperm up there, and may speed sperm travel. Avoid penetration (intercourse or with a vibrator).
10. It's best to use the equipment only once and then discard it to prevent contamination. Otherwise, you can use water and mild germicidal soap to clean your supplies if they will have time to dry completely before re-use or run very hot water over them.
When is the best time to try at-home artificial insemination?
The timing for this kind of artificial insemination at home is the same as for intercourse. The best timing is the day of ovulation and the 2-3 days before ovulation. If you use an ovulation predictor kit then it's the day of the LH surge, the day before the LH surge (as detected with an ovulation predictor kit), and the next 1-2 days, the last day or two being insurance. If you don't have all those options, the day of the LH surge and the day after are the best.
The advantage of this method is that you don't need any fitted equipment. You don't even need a speculum (though you can use one).
The success rate is the same as with intercourse, perhaps a bit less because there are usually fewer opportunities for insemination and timing may not cover the bases as well.