This article includes self insemination – aka – at home insemination tips.
For the best chances of success, start tracking ovulation before doing inseminations.
Fresh sperm vs frozen sperm
You can do self insemination with fresh or frozen sperm. Either can result in pregnancy.
But fresh sperm has a higher success rate than frozen sperm (specifically for self insemination).
That’s because fresh sperm is viable for a few days (inside someone’s uterus and fallopian tubes). Frozen sperm, once thawed, is only viable for 12-24 hours.
Self insemination process
- Sterile specimen cup for fresh sperm – or – vial of donor sperm
- Large needleless syringe (if using a sperm bank, they will send one)
- Disposable period cup (optional)
- Gloves (latex or thicker)
- Optional for fresh sperm
- Not optional for frozen sperm as they’re needed for skin protection when retrieving the vial from the nitrogen tank
- The donor ejaculates into the cup. Or the frozen sperm vial is thawed (instructions below).
- The person who wants to become pregnant (or their partner) uses the syringe to suck up the semen.
- Keep the syringe warm, inside someone’s hand or armpit so that it remains at or close to body temperature.
- The needleless syringe is inserted and emptied into the vagina of the person wanting to become pregnant. (Read the tips below.)
Alternative Process: The donor ejaculates directly into the disposable period cup, which is then placed at the cervix.
At home insemination tips
- The prospective birth parent should lie down and get comfortable. Elevating their hips slightly with a pillow can help the semen stay inside.
- The semen should be placed as close to the cervix opening as possible or even deposited on the cervix at the opening.
- You can use a speculum to view the cervix. But if you leave it in, the sperm may cling to it. In a home setting you can also feel for the cervix.
- If your hips are elevated when you inseminate the sperm should naturally flow toward the cervix.
- Some practitioners recommend having an orgasm beforehand to create a more pH friendly environment for the sperm.
- You can also have an orgasm afterwards (without penetration), which may cause uterine contractions to pull the sperm inside.
- Remain lying down for 30 minutes afterwards.
- You can place a disposable period cup inside to keep the semen close to the cervix. But if you’re able to remain lying down for 30 minutes, this is not needed.
- If you want to do multiple inseminations, it’s recommended to space them out – at least 12 hours apart. If you are using frozen sperm only use 1 vial per attempt.
How to retrieve a vial of frozen sperm
Retrieving a vial of sperm from a nitrogen tank can be a little intimidating at first.
Here’s how you do it.
- Open any seals on the tank and remove the foam top. You should see a little metal tab hooked around the top of the tank. That’s the end of a rod. The vials are snapped in place along that rod.
- Put on gloves before you touch the rod or the inside of the tank.
- Carefully pull the rod up out of the tank and then use your other hand (gloves on both hands) to remove the vial from its place on the rod. If you have multiple vials in the tank this is how you take just one out at a time.
- Replace the rod back inside the tank. Put all of the foam, or any seals back in place.
How to thaw a vial of frozen sperm
First, put the vial on a plate. Give it a few minutes to initially thaw. Once the vial temperature is comfortable enough, hold it in your hand. Or someone can put it in their armpit. Basically you want to gently raise the temp of the vial contents up to body temperature. Thawing should take 15-20 min.
Once the vial has thawed, gently roll it in your hands to mix the contents before drawing into the syringe.
Note: There are several ways to thaw a frozen vial and the sperm bank will send instructions.
- Only used unwashed sperm vials for an ICI. This sperm bank guide has more details.
- Get more info on the monthly overview of trying-to-conceive.
- Ideal timing of insemination is important! Read about how to track ovulation.
- Check out tips to prepare for parenthood in this article.
How much does it cost to do at home insemination
If you’re using fresh sperm, that arrangement is between you and the donor.
Otherwise it’s the cost of the supplies listed, most of which can be purchased online or at your local pharmacy.
Sperm Bank Costs
- Donor vials from a sperm bank (in the US) cost approximately $1500 per vial.
- There are additional costs as well.
- Nitrogen tank rentals are approximately $100-200.
- Shipping the tank if you don’t live close enough to the sperm bank to pick it up. Across the US that cost varies between $100 – $400 depending on the distance.
How successful is at home insemination
The answer for success rates of self insemination is complicated.
General ballpark is between 5-20% for each cycle attempt. Success rates go up significantly over the course of 6 attempts.
If you are using frozen sperm, chances of success are higher with IUI than with self insemination. But it is still possible to get pregnant either way.