Menu
ivf-iui-ici

The process of deciding and trying to have a baby looks different for everyone. Some couples, both gay and straight, as well as single women, need assistance helping sperm meet egg.

The good news? You have a lot of options.

Artificial insemination (where sperm is put in a woman's reproductive system without involving sex) is an increasingly popular option for many people for a variety of reasons. This might be a good choice for you if your partner is not a cisgender male, if you don't have a partner or if you have a male partner who doesn't produce sperm.

Artificial insemination is also used in conjunction with fertility treatments.

Here's the scoop on your options when it comes to artificial insemination:

In vitro fertilization (IVF): The egg and the sperm meet outside of the body (in a petri dish), and then the fertilized egg is placed into the uterus. This is usually done in cases of infertility, and always by a medical care provider.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI): The sperm is placed directly into the uterus via a very small tube that is passed up the cervix and into the uterus. This is done by a medical provider. The sperm needs to be “washed" by a sperm bank, to remove dead sperm and proteins that would otherwise cause a lot of cramping when they're inserted. IUI has been found to be slightly more effective than ICI (below).

Intracervical insemination (ICI): The sperm is placed into the cervix via a small tube. This is done by a medical provider. This sperm does not have to be washed.

Intravaginal insemination (IVI): The sperm is placed into the vagina with a syringe. Many people choose to do this at home by themselves.

To learn more about these processes, we spoke with Abby Brown, a certified nurse midwife at Community Midwifery Care in New York City. Community Midwifery Care does in-home IUIs so clients can conceive in the comfort of their own homes (pretty awesome, huh?).

What options do people have for sourcing sperm?

People can either choose an anonymous donor via a sperm bank or a known donor (someone they have a personal relationship with).

Using an anonymous donor can get pretty pricey, but then you don't have to worry about the potential legal logistics of using sperm from someone you know. Your health care provider can help you determine whether fresh or frozen sperm would be the best choice for you.

How much does sperm cost?

Anonymous donors via sperm banks, like California Cryobank or Manhattan Cryobank, are probably the easiest to deal with, but can be expensive. Sperm is approximately $700 per vial, and when you are doing natural cycle, unmedicated intrauterine inseminations, you'll likely need two vials per cycle, so that's $1,400 each month. Using known donor sperm from someone you know personally is cheaper or free.

Is artificial insemination covered by insurance?

Unfortunately, without an infertility diagnosis it usually is not, so people often have to pay out of pocket. Some practices (like ours) offer sliding scales, so with a bit of research you may be able to find a more affordable option.

Are there any legal implications people should consider?

When we have clients who are using a known donor, we always advise them to engage a family practice lawyer and hammer out a legal agreement with the donor before they start inseminations. Agreements should protect both parties, establish that the donor relinquishes any legal parental rights to a child that might be conceived with their sperm, and that the recipient of the sperm agrees that they will not seek child support from the donor.

What types of testing is done on donors?

When the sperm passes through a bank, the bank requires proof of sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing from the donor at the time of donation, and again six months later; this is known as the quarantine period. Other screening tests may be done as well. In the case of a known donor, we would strongly recommend having them screened for STIs, just as we'd recommend having a new partner get tested for STIs before having sex with them.

Deciding how to move forward with your artificial insemination is an involved process, and one that should involve close collaboration with your medical care providers. Ultimately, as with all decisions regarding your health and family, you should pick the option that feels best to you.

Ask questions, trust your intuition and demand respect from everyone involved in your care.

You might also like:

Join Motherly

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play