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Can I Artificially Inseminate Myself? The Answer's Complicated

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If you want to get pregnant, but need to make it happen sans penis or you and your partner are experiencing fertility issues, you might consider find yourself considering artificial insemination. While this procedure is often done in a clinic or hospital setting, if money is tight or you want your experience to be more intimate or personal, you might wonder, can I artificially inseminate myself? Turns out, the answer is a tad more complicated than someone trying to conceive might think.

The short answer, according to experts at Fertility Authority, is yes: it's totally possible to artificially inseminate yourself. In fact, in recent years and for a variety of reasons, more and more families are now choosing to take conception into their own hands — procuring sperm from sperm banks, donors, or their partners, and inseminating themselves at home, which brings entirely new meaning to the phrase "do it yourself." And according to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, home artificial insemination can be as effective as procedures performed at a clinic. However, if you choose to go this route, according to the College of Canadian Family Physicians, there are some health risks you should know, and legal issues you need to resolve before you get started so all involved can make sure things go smoothly once the baby is born.

According to Fertility Authority, artificial insemination — placing fresh or previously frozen sperm into a woman's uterus or vagina — has become a popular way for lesbian couples to get pregnant. While the procedure is offered at many fertility clinics and OB-GYN offices, many couples opt to do it in the comfort and privacy of their own homes, purchasing donor sperm from a sperm bank or using fresh sperm from a known donor for a less stressful and more intimate experience.

According to the same site, the process is pretty straightforward — sperm banks often provide a syringe for placing the sperm next to your cervix near the time of ovulation. After you inseminate yourself, it's recommended that you rest with your hips in an elevated position for 30 minutes. Another option is purchasing an at-home insemination kit, which include a cervical cap to be filled with semen and inserted next to your cervix for six hours.

According to an article in New Republic many heterosexual couples and single people are also opting for at-home artificial insemination, due to the high cost of fertility treatments and clinic-based procedures (which are not always covered by insurance). Some also prefer a home setting so that both partners can be involved in the "baby-making" process and for the entire activity to be more intimate and less stressful than it would be in an exam room. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), artificial insemination may specifically help couples with infertility caused by sperm mobility, ejaculation issues, or that is unexplained, as it places the sperm near the site of fertilization.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada recommends that people hoping to do insemination at home, receive preconception health care, including taking folic acid, getting a Pap smear, and screening for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. They also recommend that any donor who was not screened by a sperm bank, receive a physical exam, and be tested for HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, and gonorrhea, as they can be transmitted by semen used for the procedure.

But does it work? According to research published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, home artificial insemination is surprisingly just as effective as clinic-based procedures, with about 20 - 44 percent of people getting pregnant within six months. However, before you call your local sperm bank, you should know that reproductive law expert Melissa Brisman told New Republic that couples who use donor sperm at home might not be protected from legal challenges to their custody, as they would be if the procedure was done by a medical professional. So it's best to consult an attorney about the laws in your state before looking for a donor.

In the end, if you are ready to get pregnant and are willing to do a little medical and legal leg-work first, you might find at-home artificial insemination to be a low cost option for you.

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