Is home insemination safe?

Home insemination is artificial insemination done outside of the doctor’s office, typically within one’s home. Instead of having sexual intercourse, a woman uses a cup or a needleless syringe to introduce semen to the reproductive tract with the goal of conceiving. Home insemination is also commonly referred to as the ‘turkey baster’ method. The procedure has been around for a long time. But is it recommended?

Types of insemination

There are several different types of artificial insemination, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), intracervical insemination (ICI), and intravaginal insemination (IVI). Of these, only IVI is recommended by doctors for home insemination, as the others can carry risks of injury and infection.

There are a few different ways to perform IVI, so it might be helpful to speak with your healthcare provider about their recommendations.

Home insemination: the pros

Home insemination with IVI can be successful, and there are a few reasons why people try it. For starters, it doesn’t require intercourse, which is helpful for those who are in same-sex relationships, do not have a partner, or who are struggling with problems like erectile dysfunction, cervical fluid issues, or premature ejaculation. Other women want to try this method because they feel more in control of their experience. Finally, there’s the overall issue of cost; home insemination is cheaper than insemination done in a lab.

Home insemination: the cons

Despite these positives, home insemination definitely comes with a few potential negatives. Women need to track their ovulation very carefully so that they inject the semen at the right time. Contamination can also be a factor; things are more sterile in a lab, and it’s easier to contaminate the materials at home. Any home insemination method other than IVI could cause permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive organs. It is important to not attempt anything deeper than an IVI at home.

In a lab, sperm are normally tested and selected for their health and motility. It’s not possible to do this at home, which means there’s a risk of transmitting diseases through semen samples used for at-home insemination. Then there’s the legal question of using donor sperm. If a woman is using sperm that’s been donated from a friend, it’s extremely important for each party to fill out the relevant paperwork so that there aren’t any issues in the future regarding paternity.

What’s safe, what’s not

At-home insemination does provide a cheaper, more personal, and more private artificial insemination experience. However, if you do opt for home insemination, it’s important to stick to IVI so you do not put yourself at risk. If you think home insemination would be the best option for you, make sure that you talk to your provider beforehand so that he or she can advise you on how to go about it in the safest way possible.

  • Brian Krans. “Artificial Insemination at Home: Is it safe?” Healthline. Healthline Media, Aug 3 2015. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – Why It’s Done.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jun 21 2016. Web.
  • “Demystifying IUI, ICI, IVI, and IVF.” Seattle Sperm Bank. 2015.
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