Many couples encounter difficulties getting pregnant due to fertility problems soon after they start trying to conceive. However, few people are completely infertile, and most couples who need help with pregnancy are described as subfertile. This means that one part of their reproductive system may not be working correctly and many turn to IVF treatment before realising the cheaper and easier alternative of Artificial Insemination at home.
Artificial Insemination (AI) is an alternative to IVF treatment and is a means of helping couples to have children if they are unable to conceive through sexual intercourse. Artificial insemination refers to a range of techniques in which the man's sperm is put into the woman's genital tract artificially. Sperm may be placed in the neck of the womb (cervix), known as intracervical insemination or at the base of the cervix, known as intravaginal insemination or inside the womb itself, known as intrauterine insemination (IUI).
If there is a problem with the male partner's sperm, then sperm from a donor may be used. Donor insemination (DI) may also be useful for single women and lesbian couples.
Can a home insemination kit work for you?
Artificial insemination is carried out when the woman is most likely to ovulate. Ovulation is when an egg is released during the menstrual cycle. This is your most fertile time of the month. It usually occurs 14 days before the start of your period and is easier to detect if your periods are regular.
Ovulation can also be detected by a half-degree drop in body temperature, and a change in vaginal discharge. However, blood or urine hormone tests, or ultrasound scans, are usually carried out to accurately calculate the most suitable time for insemination. This improves the chance of the treatment leading to conception.
Artificial insemination can also be performed in a stimulated menstrual cycle. Hormone drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries to release an egg. Sometimes this is combined with the woman's natural cycle to increase the chance of conception.
The procedure is the same if donor sperm is used.
Some clinics in the UK offer artificial insemination treatment using donor sperm to single women and lesbian couples. However, at present, clinics are also required to consider the need of a child to have a father figure under a clause in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990.
Why it is necessary?
Artificial insemination (AI) is a way of helping people to have children who may otherwise be unable to conceive. There are a number of factors that can affect fertility, and AI is better suited to certain problems rather than others. AI may be useful for couples facing some of the following fertility difficulties:
Problems with the cervical mucus - there may not be enough mucus to allow sperm to move easily, or it may be too thick and sticky. Sometimes, the female partner's cervical mucus is not compatible with the male partner's sperm
Women with mild endometriosis (a condition in which the lining of the uterus can become attached to organs such as the fallopian tubes, preventing the passage of eggs)
Anatomical problems with the uterus or cervix, which prevents sperm finding the egg
Vaginismus - which makes penetration painful
Retrograde ejaculation (the entry of semen into the bladder instead of going out through the urethra during ejaculation)
Low sperm count or motility issues
Abnormalities of the penis, such as severe hypospadias. This is when the ejaculate appears at the base of the penis instead of the tip. Occasionally, injury to the penis can also prevent normal penetration and ejaculation
Impotence that makes sexual intercourse impossible
Cancer treatment using chemotherapy or radiotherapy can also make men infertile
Artificial insemination is successful in about 30% of cases. Successful treatment often depends on what the cause of infertility was. Conception is more likely to occur when the female partner's natural cycle is combined with hormone treatment to stimulate egg release, although this does carry the associated risk of multiple pregnancy.
The chance of getting pregnant by artificial insemination is increased if the female partner has healthy fallopian tubes and ovulates regularly. Chances of conceptions are also linked to age. Female fertility decreases after the age of 30, until it is has almost gone by the age of 45.
For 90% of couples, if treatment is successful, it occurs within the first six cycles of treatment. If conception does not occur by this point, other forms of treatment may be recommended. This may include in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and gamete intra-Fallopian transfer (GIFT).
Although there are several days of the month in which a woman is fertile, you are most fertile during the days around ovulation.
1. One method is simply counting the days of your menstrual cycle, although this method is often not very reliable. Ovulation generally occurs on day 14 if your cycle is 28 days long.
2. Another method involves using physical signs such as basal body temperature, cervical position and cervical mucus changes. The body temperature chart is a daily recording of body temperature, which is an indicator of ovulation (body temperature will rise after ovulation) but you will need to purchase a high accuracy thermometer.
3. After menstruation, the cervix undergoes a series of changes in position and texture. During most of the menstrual cycle, the cervix remains firm, like the tip of the nose, and is positioned low and closed. However, as a woman approaches ovulation, the cervix becomes softer, and rises and opens in response to the high levels of estrogen present at ovulation. These changes, with the production of fertile types of cervical mucus, support the survival and movement of sperm. You can examine your cervix by inserting a clean finger into your vagina.
4. Cervical mucus monitoring involves examining the mucus that is secreted from the cervix, which enables a woman to tell where she is in her cycle and thereby predict the time of ovulation - see below pages for more detailed information.
5. Using an ovulation test to predict when you are about to ovulate is also another method. When ovulation is about to occur a hormone is released which is called the Luteinizing hormone (LH) surge and can be detected using an ovulation test. When the test is positive, ovulation will occur over the next 24 to 36 hours.
Stages of Cervical Fluid: Post Menses (after period)
Stage 1: Lasting 2 - 3 days CM (cervical mucus) is sticky
Stage 2: Lasting 2 - 4 days: CM is creamy or milky Stage 3: Lasting 1 - 5 days: Egg white Cervical Fluid - very fertile!
Stage 4: Dry, moist or sticky (Infertile)
Peak fertile cervical mucus is thin and stretchy. After ovulation, progesterone abruptly suppresses the peak mucus and the mucus pattern continues with sticky mucus for a day or two, and then returns to dryness.
Typically women in their mid twenties have egg white cervical mucus for approximately 5 days, by mid-thirties, only 1-2 days, but this is not the rule. Many women have several days of EWCM late into their thirties.
The Cervical Mucus will look and have the consistency of egg whites. It is slippery to the touch and if pulled between the fingertips will stretch 1 - 10 inches.
The color can be clear or iridescent and extremely wet. If your CM has an unusual odor, consult your physician; this may be a sign of infection. If your CM has the consistency of cottage cheese, this may be a sign of a yeast infection, also consult your physician.
Increasing Cervical Mucus
Cut back on caffeine and don't smoke!
Drinking at least ten 6oz glasses of water a day
Evening Primrose Oil: 1,000 IU per day should be taken from Cycle Day 1 to Ovulation
Flax Seed Oil: 2,000 mg per day from Ovulation to fertilization
Red Raspberry: 1,000 mg daily: Start anytime in cycle
Guaifenesin: (cough syrup) 200mg per day from day 5 to day 10 of your menstrual cycle (only use 100% guaifenesin as other ingredients could have the opposite effect)
If you've been trying to start a family without success, making some simple lifestyle changes may increase your chance of conception and help to ensure a healthy pregnancy. However, there are some factors, such as age, ovulation problems, sperm disorders and damaged fallopian tubes, which you can't change.
Changes you can make
Eat well: if you're a woman, a nutritious, balanced diet will help improve your general health and well-being, and ensure your body is able to nourish a baby. If you're a man, healthy eating is also important for sperm production. Choose a varied diet containing fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, potatoes, rice and other cereals (wholegrain, where possible), low-fat milk and dairy products, lean meat, fish and other sources of protein.
Watch your weight: being overweight or very underweight can disrupt your periods and hinder conception. A woman with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 29 or less than 19 may find it more difficult to conceive. To work out your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared (your height in metres multiplied by itself).
Drink wisely: the government advises women trying to conceive to avoid alcohol completely. Men shouldn't drink more than three or four units a day, and should avoid binge drinking to prevent damage to sperm.
Stop smoking: smoking has been linked to infertility and early menopause in women, and sperm problems in men. It also reduces the success of fertility treatments.
Be active: regular moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes a day will help to keep you fit for conception and help to control your weight.
Keep cool: for optimum sperm production, the testicles need to be a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the body. Avoid tight underwear and jeans, and excessively hot baths and saunas.
Think about your job: occupations that involve sitting for long periods, such as long-distance lorry driving, or exposure to environmental chemicals such as paints or pesticides, may affect sperm quality. If this is an issue, discuss it with your work supervisor.
Manage stress: stress doesn't cause infertility, but excessive anxiety can sometimes upset the menstrual cycle. Try to reduce stress levels and give yourself time to relax.
Take folic acid: all women trying for a baby should take a supplement of 400mcg of folic acid a day to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.
Check drugs: certain prescription drugs can reduce the chance of conception. If you're taking regular medication, talk to your doctor. Marijuana and cocaine can affect sperm count.
Things you can't change
Not all factors affecting fertility are within your control.
For women, the following may affect conception: Ovulation problems: sometimes, women don't ovulate (release an egg each month) or do so only occasionally. Reasons include:
Endometriosis, in which cells from the lining of the womb implant elsewhere, such as the ovaries.
Pelvic inflammatory disease, which can be caused by chlamydia and other STIs. Previous pelvic surgery - for example, for appendicitis or peritonitis.
Your age: the quantity and quality of your eggs decline with age. Women in their early 20s are about twice as likely to get pregnant as women in their late 30s.
Problems in the womb: problems with the lining of the womb, such as fibroids or physical abnormalities of the womb, can prevent the successful implantation of a fertilised egg.
Other medical conditions: conditions that can affect female fertility include diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid and bowel diseases, as well as gynaecological problems such as a previous ectopic pregnancy or more than one miscarriage.
Male infertility is usually caused by sperm problems. These include:
Previous inflammation of, or injury to, the testicles. This includes inflammation caused by mumps, drug treatment, and radiotherapy or sporting injuries.
A previous bacterial infection.
Previous surgery - for example, to correct a hernia - or undescended or twisted testicles, which can damage the tubes or impair blood flow to the testicles.
Diabetes, medication or urinary tract surgery can cause retrograde ejaculation, when sperm travels backwards into the bladder.
Sexual problems, such as the inability to have an erection.
If you have concerns on your partnerís fertility, it is best to get tested before spending months trying. Affordable tests can be purchased from auction websites, or professional tests done by your local GP.
When using a sperm donor there are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself first. Do you want them to be known or anonymous? Do you want them to have certain characteristics (blue eyes etc)? Do you want them to have any say in the upbringing of the child? Has he shown you all his medical history?, Do you know about his family medical history?, Does he want money for the donations? etc etc.
A lot of discussion should take place between you and the sperm donor before you start. You have to make absolute certain that you both agree on everything so that you or he doesn't have any surprises. I have seen some awful news reports siding with both sperm donors and recipients so be careful.
Most contracts aren't worth the paper they are written on, so don't pay a lot of money through lawyers when contracts can easily be disregarded.
Couples, where the male has had a vasectomy or other sperm issues may have asked a family member on his side to provide sperm, prepare yourself the same way as above.
Finding a sperm donor is another matter. The cheapest method is to ask friends and acquaintances, if no success advertise on a free site such as http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/FreeSpermDonors/ or a free local site for your area. Using a sperm donor in your area is much more convenient than if you had to travel, as sperm can only survive a couple of hours outside the human body.
Another method is paying a site to find a sperm donor. There are a lot of choices of sites when you search the internet but that can be quite pricey. The benefits are that there are available sperm donors already waiting for your email. The downside is that you donít know how many times he has already provided his services.
Lastly, you can purchase frozen sperm from website or clinics. You can also search the internet for these but again, this can be quite pricey. Sperm is also very fragile and you have to be careful when defrosting the frozen sperm and ensure it is inserted as soon as it hits body temperature. Click here for more information.
Instructions for Artificial Self Insemination:
Give the Ďsperm donorí or your Ďmale partnerí a sterile container and ask him to ejaculate into the container by means of masturbation and put the lid on the container before taking it to your bedroom or similar.
In preparation for being inseminated, you should get into a comfortable position in bed with your hips/bum raised with a cushion Ė to assist with the downward direction of the sperm, and relaxed enough to remain in that position for the next 30 minutes.
Take a syringe (do not use a needle) put the point of the syringe into the sperm inside the container (tilted for easier suction) and slowly draw it back with all of the semen.
Insert the syringe as far into the vagina as possible, relax and inject slowly. Leave for a few seconds then remove syringe slowly and try not to move for the next 30 minutes while the sperm does its magic.
If possible, try stimulating the clitoris and having an orgasm before insemination helps even more as the vibrations dip the cervix into the pool of semen once inside the vagina.
Individually wrapped sterile specimen containers. A lot of research has gone into the best collection device for sperm and the containers are the easiest to use for the donors/partners and recipients
10ml individually wrapped sterile syringes which are 10cm long and latex free. Ė The average size of a penis is 10cm or 4 inches and the average size of a womenís vagina is also 10cm or 4 inches, therefore these syringes are ideal
Accurate thermometers measuring your temperature around ovulation
Ovulation tests to detect the LH Surge (see above for more information)
Pregnancy tests to detect if conception has occurred
Detailed instructions on ovulation and insemination
Detailed instructions on using ovulation and pregnancy tests
Useful and relevant contacts page
Basal body temperature, cervical mucus and menstrual cycle monitoring chart
Yearly planner to monitor menstrual cycle
Relaxing CDís Ė a specialised hypnosis recording to assist in relaxation when using a donor and/or if you have been trying for a while and have convinced yourself you canít get pregnant. Your mind is a very powerful tool and if you think you canít get pregnant you wonít!
Fertility tests for men and women. If you have been trying for a while, this is a private and easy test that can be done at home to check your fertility levels Ė whether itís sperm count/mobility or FSH (follicle stimulating hormone)
At Insemination Help we are well aware of the difficulties experienced by single woman, couples and lesbians wanting to conceive. Our goal is to make this experience stress free with all the necessary equipment, advice and resources needed to make this experience an enjoyable and magical one. We offer a variety of insemination kits to suit each persons needs and we will provide you with everything you need to conceive in the comfort of your own home once you find a sperm donor.
As someone wanting to artificially inseminate, I found that the market did not cater for me and the equipment and advice needed was not at hand. Through this website and the products and advice available I aim to make this an easy process for all women wanting to inseminate themselves.
Order your pack today and get started on creating that family you have always dreamed of.
In this web site, we invite you to become acquainted with our full range of facilities; we also offer information on insemination using a sperm donor which is included in our packs.
Donít waste time, order today and make that twinkle in your eye a reality!!
National Gamete Donation Trust Practical information for those wishing to donate eggs and sperm, and those requiring treatment with donor gametes. Helpline: 0845 226 9193 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.ngdt.co.uk
National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidance on health technologies, medicines, treatments and procedures available from the NHS. Email: email@example.com Website: www.nice.org.uk
Parentline Plus Offers support to anyone parenting a child; the child's parents, stepparents, grandparents and foster parents. Runs free telephone and email helplines, parenting courses and offers information leaflets
Stages in Pregnancy will guide you through your fertility years, the early signs of pregnancy and the three trimesters through post partum. In the beginning stages learn how to effectively chart your fertility signs and pinpoint ovulation and identify possible infertility.
Stonewall The campaigning group for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals has a wealth of information available. Click on Issue Bank followed by Parents and Children for more information on parenting.
UK DonorLink Contact register specifically for anyone over the age of 18 who was conceived using donated sperm or eggs, or who donated in the UK before August 1991. Tel: 0113 278 3217 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.ukdonorlink.org.uk
Verity Charity for women whose lives are affected by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Website: www.verity-pcos.org.uk
Insemination-help is not responsible for any of the above 3rd party organisations or information they provide. The contacts are for your information only and if you think an organisation should or should not be listed please let us know.
This website has been created and developed by Insemination-help.com and any information is protected by international copyright and trademark laws.
All information within this website is for educational and informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical practice or advice and will incur no legal or moral liabilities for anyone associated with this service. Always consult your doctor or health care professional for definitive medical questions.
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