Couples may take the route of artificial insemination to get pregnant for a variety of reasons, from infertility to same sex relationships and more. The choice to do artificial insemination at home is one that may make someone feel more comfortable while also cutting down on costs.
What is Artificial Insemination?
Artificial insemination (AI for short) refers to any technique involving the placement of sperm into a woman’s reproductive tract with the hope of achieving pregnancy. It’s different from IVF because semen can be inserted straight into the cervix or the vagina without preparing the specimen.
One of the best things about artificial insemination is that it can also be done at home if you don’t want to do it at a fertility clinic.
Artificial Insemination vs. Intrauterine Insemination
Artificial insemination is the process of helping a woman get pregnant with prepared sperm. During artificial insemination, sperm can be placed directly into a woman’s cervix, uterine tubes, or womb (uterus).
Already prepared sperm is delivered into these areas around the time of ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovary) to achieve fertilization.
While the sperm can be placed in any of those areas, the most common form of artificial insemination performed by a physician is IUI (intrauterine insemination). For IUI, the doctor deposits the sperm directly in the uterus.
Placing the sperm into the cervix is called intracervical insemination (ICI) and isn’t as common of a procedure, but it can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Benefits of At-Home Insemination
A lot of women prefer home inseminations because it makes the process feel less medical and more private. In-clinic inseminations come with additional expenses since medical staff and facilities are involved.
Some women also like home insemination due to its flexibility compared to having doctor’s appointments at specific times that may be difficult to fit into your schedule. They can also be an ideal choice in today’s world impacted by the coronavirus epidemic.
Lastly, artificial insemination at home can still be an intimate moment shared by two partners. If a woman needs assistance in getting pregnant, she can still have her egg become fertilized in private, similar to how pregnancy typically occurs.
What’s the success rate of home artificial insemination (ICI) and IUI?
A study published in the Journal of Andrology found that IUI has higher clinical pregnancy rates after comparing six IUI cycles with the same cycles of intracervical insemination (ICI). This may be because of the more direct placement of prepared, highly concentrated sperm.
According to UW Health (University of Wisconsin Hospitals and clinics), the preparation of a sperm sample in a lab raises sperm concentration by 20 times. When performing artificial insemination at home, you won’t be able to prepare the sperm as intricately as the scientists can in a lab.
There is no guarantee that conception will take place at home since careful preparation and correct timing are required for artificial insemination to be successful. Presently, the success rate is around 10-15 % per menstrual cycle for women trying to get pregnant through intracervical insemination (ICI) at home.
The success of artificial insemination depends on the following factors:
- A woman’s age
- Use of fertility drugs
- Preexisting fertility issues
What do you need to perform artificial insemination at home?
The materials you will need for artificial insemination will depend on whether you’re doing ICI or IUI and which sperm option you intend to use.
You will need:
- Fresh sperm (recently collected) or frozen sperm (purchased from a sperm bank)
- Collection cups or condom (baggy)
- A small, needleless syringe or oral medicine syringe
- Tube to attach to the syringe (optional)
- Saline that has no additive or preservatives
- Mild germicidal soap (optional)
- Pillows and towels for comfort and cleanliness
- Anything that can help a woman relax, like calming music or essential oils
Most of these materials are sold over the counter in pharmacy stores, or your doctor can help you get them. Ensure that you purchase a syringe with a plunger, not a bulb end.
There are also ready-make kits, like Mosie Kit, that you can use for home insemination. A study has shown that these kits can be just as effective as an IUI treatment conducted by a doctor.
When should I do artificial insemination at home?
The most important first step of doing artificial insemination at home is to schedule the right time. You’ll want to do the procedure on a day of high fertility when it will have the highest rate of success.
Finding your most optimal fertile window is crucial as it can help a woman to know when her body may be releasing eggs (ovulation). Home ovulation kits are the easiest way to indicate ovulation time by evaluating the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in urine.
Ovulation often takes place around 10-15 days from the first day of menstruation. Take note of the typical symptoms of ovulation including clear, sticky vaginal discharge and mild cramping.
Measuring basal body temperature, which increases slightly during ovulation, with a special basal thermometer immediately after waking up and before getting out of bed helps too. There’s no guarantee of pregnancy because many unrelated factors can stop conception.
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How to Do Artificial Insemination at Home – Step by Step
1. Collect the male semen in a clean or sterile plastic cup, glass, collection condom, or baggy. Avoid using a regular condom since it may contain spermicides (chemicals that can kill sperm).
You stand a better chance of getting the ejaculate out of a cup. But, you can get a bigger sample by using a baggy or collection condom.
The addition of saline containing preservatives or additives can help get all the sperm into the syringe, but it’s okay if some is leftover. If you want to use frozen sperm, ask the sperm bank for instructions about thawing the sperm.
2. Grab the syringe and pull it back and then release the air.
3. With the tip of the syringe in the ejaculate, pull back on the syringe again. The vacuum made by drawing back on the stopper will pull the semen into the syringe. Try to include as much as you can.
4. Tap the syringe to remove air bubbles so that you don’t inject air into the vagina. To do this, slowly rotate the syringe until the open end is facing up. Tap on the syringe with your fingers until the air bubbles are at the top and slightly push the plunger in on the catheter –to remove the air without losing any semen.
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5. Get yourself into a comfortable position where you can stay for about 30 minutes with limited movement. It is best to lay on your side or raise your hips to ensure your pelvis is a bit tilted.
6. Gently insert the catheter or syringe into the vagina until it is near the cervix. The aim is to coat the outside of the cervix with the sperm and release a large amount of sperm near the cervix.
7. Inject sperm slowly because the sperm can spill out of the vagina or spray away from the cervix if you do it too fast.
8. Try to stimulate orgasm with the clitorus because the cervix sucks up semen during female orgasm. Orgasm moves sperm up the female reproductive tract, increasing the speed at which sperm travels. Avoid any vaginal penetration.
9. Ideally, you should not use the syringe more than once to reduce the risks of contamination. However, you may also clean your supplies with water and mild germicidal soap or run hot water over them before reuse.
You may repeat this procedure daily during your 3 days of optimal fertility. However, any more than that is not necessary.
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Risks – Is At-home Artificial Insemination Safe?
Although artificial insemination at home is relatively safe, there are few risks when you’re trying to perform any minor medical procedure at home.
An unsterile syringe could result in the insertion of bacteria into the vagina, leading to infection of the womb lining known as endometritis. Endometritis is characterized by bleeding, fever, pelvis pain, vagina swelling, and discharge, but can be treated using antibiotics.
Make sure to wash your hands and put on gloves when doing the insemination to maintain sterility during the procedure.
The bigger risk has to do with the sperm used. If the sperm is bought from a sperm bank, they will probably conduct the necessary medical testing for you.
If you are getting your sperm from a friend, it’s important to have preliminary testing done on the sperm sample. Some of these tests include genetic testing and STI tests (including an HIV test) to eliminate the chances of you and the sperm donor carrying a genetic mutation that might be transferred to your baby.
Things to do after an ICI treatment
Once the artificial insemination is done, you can rest easy. Have faith and be optimistic that the procedure resulted in a pregnancy. Although you can’t take a pregnancy test for a couple more weeks, here are a few things to do during that waiting period:
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Repeat positive fertility affirmations
- Light exercise
- See the doctor regularly
- Use drugs only prescribed by doctor
- Try not to think about it until you’re at the end of your cycle
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Things to avoid after an ICI treatment
Although you’re not certain whether or not you’re pregnant yet, if you’re activity trying to conceive, you should act as if you are. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will ensure that the pregnancy progresses.
- Don’t use painkillers
- Avoid unnecessary stress
- No heavy lifting
- No swimming
- Avoid exposing yourself to harmful radiation
- Avoid smoking or drinking
The road to pregnancy can often be an exhausting and rocky one, but the end result is worth all the stress. I hope you have found the steps on how to artificial insemination at home easy to understand and follow.
Good luck in your journey and sending all the fertility dust your way!
About the Author:
Rohit Kumar is the leading columnist of www.fertile.com, a reputed established in California and providing comprehensive solutions to infertility and its obstacles. Rohit has worked with many experts from the reproductive technology field and authored numerous journals to shed light on the recent events in reproductive sciences.