At-home artificial insemination (AI) or self-insemination is not considered a fertility treatment, since no medical assistance is required to perform it. Although it is a simple process that requires you to just buy a DIY insemination kit, the success rates are similar to sex relations. In other words, reproductive success is rather low.
AI at home is common amongst women who decide to become single mothers, lesbian couples, and heterosexual couples with ejaculation issues or sexual dysfunction.
The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.
At-home AI kit
The necessary materials to perform it can be easily purchased at pharmacies or through the Internet. It includes the following materials:
- Sterile from 2 to 5 ml syringe without needle. The ones including a cannula work better as they are larger.
- Vinyl gloves
- Sample container
- Physiological serum, since it facilitates semen suction.
How is it performed?
Once all the necessary materials are ready, the following steps are then taken:
- The first step is to put the gloves on.
- Partner or donor semen is left in the container for this purpose. It is important that you try to maintain the temperature, as sperm motility decreases as temperature drops. In case the semen sample has been purchased at a sperm bank, it will be frozen in liquid nitrogen. Thus, you will have to defrost the sample following the instructions as indicated by the bank.
- In order to facilitate semen suction, some serum should be added to the semen in order to make it more watery. Serum should be at the same temperature as the human body (about 36-37 °C).
- Then, the semen is sucked out with the syringe.
- The recipient woman lies in the same position as in the gynecologist, that is, with her legs open. Putting cushions under your low back may help you get into this position. In short, the position should be a comfortable one for you, one that you be able to maintain for 30 minutes.
- We insert carefully the syringe into the vagina in order to gently empty the semen on the inside. This step should be carried out slowly in order not to be scratched. It will be easier with some help, that is, if another person does it for you.
- After having placed the syringe on the right site, press the plunger gently. By doing this, the specimen with the sperms will get out slowly, being deposited in the vaginal fundus.
- Once we have already finished, 2 ml of serum should be sucked out with the syringe and then the operation will be repeated. In this way, sperm cells that remain stuck in the syringe can be used as well.
- After the process, the woman should rest in the same position for half an hour and then she can continue her normal routine.
To increase the success rates, it is better to self-inseminate yourself in the middle of your menstrual cycle, that is to say, when you are ovulating. It is considered that a woman’s menstrual cycle starts when the period shows up, and it lasts an average of 28 days. Thus, the middle of the cycle coincides with day 14 after the first day of your menstrual period.
There exist different methods to measure the fertile window (ovulation) so insemination can be done during that period.
At-home AI success & risks
At-home artificial insemination is not considered to be a medical technique because it requires no qualified professional. Moreover, it is performed in the private sphere and there are no studies that calculate the success rates of this assisted reproductive technology.
It is a simple, cheap technique, hence that many couples use it as their first option in case of infertility. Its effectiveness is similar to engaging into unsafe sexual intercourse and, surely, less effective because the sperm is transported and used after being ejaculated. If it is not correctly performed, sperm may deteriorate. That is why it is crucial to keep the sperm in optimal temperature conditions. When sperm stays out of a man’s body for more than three hours, it is no longer considered as viable.
Also, if donor sperm is used, it goes through a freezing and thawing process, which can alter the properties of the sample to a large extent. When a woman purchases a semen sample from a sperm bank, it is shipped frozen. For it to be defrosted, she should follow the indications of the bank strictly.
Irrespective of the origin of the semen you are using, it is fundamental that you keep the correct temperature. This way, its quality will not be altered, and the pregnancy success rates will not diminish.
If there are severe fertility problems, this procedure is not recommended, since treatments have made a good progress and women can now undergo ovarian hyperstimulation in clinics to increase the pregnancy rate. Furthermore, sperm is artificially capacitated to facilitate its journey to the egg. The technique used is called sperm capacitation.
The dangers of performing a DIY artificial insemination are exactly the same as engaging into sexual intercourse. Since the semen sample is not previously examined, it might contain a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).
If self-insemination is done using donor sperm from a sperm bank, the risk of STD transmission decreases, as sperm banks examine samples before accepting them.
FAQs from users
Does at home artificial insemination work?
Although there are cases in which pregnancy is achieved with this method, the chances of succeeding are not higher than those of having intercourse. For this reason, if there are severe infertility issues, it is unlikely to work.
What is the main difference between artificial insemination and self-insemination?
The main characteristic of IUI performed at fertility clinics is the place where the specialist places the semen: inside the uterus.
On the other hand, with at-home artificial insemination, the semen is deposited generally in the vagina, as it does when having sexual intercourse.
As it happens with artificial insemination, can you do IVF at home?
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a more technically challenging technique than IUI. In fact, anesthesia, surgery, a rigorous monitoring of ovarian stimulation, embryo culture, etc. are needed to perform it. Thus, the answer is no, it cannot be done at home.
Is there any risk associated with at home artificial insemination?
No, the risk of at home artificial insemination using the husband’s sperm is exactly the same as if you have sex.
If you are using donor sperm, the risk lies in the fact that the origin of the sample is unknown. For this reason, it is crucial that the sample you use has been purchased at a sperm bank that complies with the minimum quality standards and the legal requirements.
Is it safe if I use donor sperm from a sperm bank?
Yes. Potential sperm donors are pre-screened following a series of rigorous selection criteria. In fact, less than 10% of the candidates are accepted. When a candidate is accepted, they are medically and psychologically screened previously as well. Moreover, they are tested for a number of hereditary and infectious diseases.
Using the semen of men who advertise on websites, forums, etc., can be dangerous because they are not previously screened. Thus, the risk of transmitting a STD is high.
What kind of information can I obtain about a donor from a sperm bank?
In some cases, the woman can see a picture of the donor as a baby, listen to an audio tape to hear his voice, learn some details about his interests, family, studies, etc., see the results of emotional intelligence tests, get info about the bank’s personnel impressions about him, as well as learning about physical characteristics such as the eye and hair color, height, and weight.
Suggested for you
As explained through this post, at-home insemination is not a fertility treatment. To learn more about Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), the fertility treatment that involves the expertise of a specialist, do not miss this: What Is Artificial Insemination?
On the other hand, if you are doubtful as regards the symptoms to expect or if rest is necessary after the procedure, you can get answers here: What to Expect After Artificial Insemination (AI).
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Dixon RE, Buttram VC Jr, Schum CW: Artificial insemination using homologous semen: a review of 158 cases. Fertil Steril 27:647, 1976.
Guttmacher AF: The role of artificial insemination in the treatment of sterility. Obstet Gynecol Surv 15:767, 1960.
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FAQs from users: 'Does at home artificial insemination work?', 'What is the main difference between artificial insemination and self-insemination?', 'As it happens with artificial insemination, can you do IVF at home?', 'Is there any risk associated with at home artificial insemination?', 'Is it safe if I use donor sperm from a sperm bank?' y 'What kind of information can I obtain about a donor from a sperm bank?'.