The conception of a child involves many sophisticated steps, starting with insemination. Insemination refers to the introduction of semen into a woman. When a man and woman have unprotected sexual intercourse, insemination happens naturally. However, this process can be challenged by erectile dysfunction or ejaculatory disorder. If donor sperm is being used, intercourse may not be a desirable method of insemination. Although insemination can be done in a clinical setting, through intrauterine insemination (IUI) for example, this process lacks privacy and can be costly. For these reasons, among others, some people choose to use tools to perform insemination in the privacy of their own home.
There are various instruments available for at-home insemination commercially. Some are sold in stores, such as The Stork, a cervical cap insemination device. Others are sold online, such as The Mosie Kit. Although these kits are convenient, one can simply use a collection cup and sterile needleless syringe instead. Supplies for home insemination can also be obtained from fertility clinics, especially if they sell donor sperm.
Before insemination, the male should abstain from ejaculation for 1-3 days. Any more than this and the sperm quality declines. Any less than this and the amount of ejaculate may not be sufficient for success. In order to determine the optimal timing for insemination, women should perform home ovulation predictor kit (OPK) testing. Ovulation often occurs near the midpoint of the menstrual cycle, though this can vary. Monitoring of cervical mucus consistency and basal body temperature can also help to determine ovulation timing. For more read Cervical Mucus & Fertility. Once the OPK turns positive, insemination should be performed. Multiple inseminations can be done over the course of a couple of days and could improve the chance for success. However, the volume of ejaculate may decline when produced in close succession.
One of the differences between home insemination and IUI is the placement of the sperm. Home insemination delivers semen into the vaginal canal. The sperm must then travel through the cervix, into the uterus and to the fallopian tubes, where fertilization of the egg(s) can occur. In contrast, IUI delivers sperm beyond the cervix, directly into the uterus, in close proximity to the fallopian tubes for fertilization. Clinics must put semen through a washing process before placing it directly into the uterus, to avoid an adverse reaction. Nature normally takes care of this process when semen is delivered into the vagina.
Some women will be unable to conceive via insemination, such as those with two blocked fallopian tubes. This is often not known before attempting pregnancy, so there can be a benefit to undergoing fertility evaluation ahead of time. Alternatively, one could attempt several cycles, and then seek help if there is no success.
Insemination is a vital step in the conception of a child, but certain barriers can obstruct this process. At-home insemination offers a convenient and discrete method for intended parents. Due to its low upfront cost, it is often worth trying a few times before moving on to more invasive and expensive fertility procedures.