DIY TO HOME INSEMINATION USING SOFTCUPS
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice and does not take the place of consulting with a doctor (or a lawyer for the legals).
Before following the instructions on this page, you should read through and discuss all the risks with a qualified medical professional.
Before you inseminate
Know your cycle
If it hasn’t been stressed to you enough, you should know your cycle inside out and backwards. There is a fine line between knowing your body’s rhythms, and telling your local green-grocer about how far your egg-white mucus can stretch; we’re sure you’ll find the right balance. In addition to the information already discussed there are many books out there that provide invaluable information. The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth was written in the US, so some information needs to be filtered through, however overall it is a great general resource. The other great book is Taking charge of your fertility.
Find a donor
Once you have made the decision to start trying to conceive, one of the biggest decisions is whether to use a known or unknown donor. Each option has its pros and cons, and only you can make the best decision that is right for you. The purposes of this “DIY” information is focusing on the nuts and bolts of how to get those little swimmers up there. We can’t find the sperm for you, but we have included some popular websites in the appendix, however there are many ways to find a donor. There are also some good articles on how to screen for a donor, which we are working on including.
In the meantime, http://www.rainbowfamilies.org.au/for-prospective-families/prospective-lesbian-parents/finding-a-donor-thinking-it-through/ and the rainbow families website in general has some great information.
It is also worth mentioning that having thorough health, fertility and STI checks, for everyone, is highly recommended, and doing this BEFORE any contracts are signed or sperm changes hands.
It is also recommended that you draft a donor or co-parenting agreement, even though donor agreements (professionally or independently drafted) are currently not legally recognised in Victoria, it is still well worth seeing legal advice and getting the agreement checked over. At least it’s a place to start to the conversation with your donor, to talk about the difficult issues that are best discussed BEFORE conception, to ensure that everyone is on the same page and has the same expectations from the outset, rather than messy potential legal misunderstandings that could occur later down the track.
Now that we have mentioned all the serious stuff, let’s get to the fun stuff!!!
There are a variety of different methods, from literally using a turkey baster (ah, the cliché), to the more common needleless syringe or using an Instead SoftCup which is rapidly becoming a method of choice for those trying to conceive, and it’s certainly the method we suggest. One question we often get asked is about using a menstrual cup (like lunette or diva cup), however the shape of these is not ideal as it draws fluid away from the cervix, the design of the Softcups keeps the fluid next to the cervix, which is where you want it!
There are few different ways to go about it and we’ll talk about it as we go, our advice is to practice as much as you can and find what technique suits you.
OPTIONS FOR INSEMINATION:
There are a few different methods that you can use, these include:
- A specimen jar to collect the sperm and needleless syringe to insert sperm into the vagina
- A specimen jar to collect the sperm, a needleless syringe to transfer the sperm into a Softcup which is then inserted into the vagina
- Sperm deposited directly into the Softcup which is then inserted into the vagina
- A specimen jar to collect the sperm, a needleless syringe to insert sperm into the vagina, and then inserting a Softcup afterwards to hold everything in place.
There is no right or wrong, just whatever feels most comfortable for you.
Equipment you will need:
- In-depth knowledge of your menstrual and fertility cycle
- A 100ml specimen jar (a smaller jar could work, but it’s also harder to hit a smaller target)
- 10ml needleless syringe [luer slip] (again size isn’t crucial but this size seems about ‘just right’)
- An “Instead SoftCup” (eBay usually have these, or a health food store that stocks menstrual cups)
- Sperm Friendly Lube (regular lube can kill sperm, either Pre-seed or maybe baby lube)
- Sperm (preferably delivered fresh by the donor immediately after ejaculation)
- Lots of pillows
- Whatever romantic accessories you desire, like music, candles, etc.
- BABY WIPES
- A towel
- Medical gloves if you have a strong gag reflex or a germ/semen phobia
- Patience, a sense of humour and a whole load of love!
If you are doing this somewhere other than home, we recommend packing a comfortable blanket/s in the car and some pillows so you can lay down. If you have an SUV, folding down the back works brilliantly. Make sure to bring something to cover yourself with so you have privacy. This might seem strange, however time is of the essence when inseminating, plan as much as you can beforehand, even a ‘dry-run’ can help to address any unforseen obstacles.
Although the back of the car method has been known to work, ideally the donor would come to you at home or a motel close to them, as the stress of transporting can be a little overwhelming.
A week before your predicted ovulation
Notify your donor of your expected fertility window and ensure this time works for him. Discuss the location and any travel accommodations that need to be made.
One topic that may need to be discussed with your donor, is how long it has been since he has ejaculated. When talking sperm quality, 3 days is the ideal length of time to build up reserves. However any longer than 3 days and sperm quality starts to deteriorate. Ideally he wouldn’t have ejaculated any sooner than the day before and any longer than 3 days before.
If using a SoftCup, practice inserting it a few times so you are comfortable with the process. When inserting the SoftCup lightly smear (and I literally mean lightly smear) the outer edge that is being inserted first. Too much lube and the rim of the cup is hard to hold shut and I’m pretty sure that your children don’t want to hear the conception story of how mum sling-shotted herself in the eye with a SoftCup full of sperm. Speaking of which, it’s not a bad idea to try inserting the SoftCup with some vaginal friendly fluid in it. Because putting in an empty SoftCup is a little different to one that has precious goods. You could try using lube, however as mentioned above, a big glob of lube in a SoftCup can go EVERYWHERE. One option may be a 1/2 teaspoon of organic natural yoghurt, but be sure to do this well before your fertile window.
This is always a area of discussion, and again opinions vary and what is best is often a compromise between donor availability and logistics. Most women have 4 days of fertile mucus. Some health professionals suggest that out of the 4 fertile days, the best time to inseminate is the 2nd and 4th fertile day, which times insemination for your very peak day and two days earlier to allow for sperm regeneration, however if there is known sperm issues, it would be best to discuss with a doctor about insemination strategy. If there is no issues with the donor’s health or his fertility, and he is up to the task, then inseminating daily during the 4 fertile days should be fine.
YOU’VE DONE ALL THE PREP WORK, NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!!
If your donor is coming to you, set up the area you want the sperm donor to use.
Set out the sterile collection container you place to use.
You can get your donor to deposit directly into a SoftCup, in which case, open it make sure it is right side out and place it on a clean paper towel. You can also sit the Softcup in a clean cup or jar so that the contents are not pushed out. Even though there is an extra step involved, I’d suggest asking your donor to deposit his sperm into a specimen jar, that way there is a lid, less chance of spilling while you are keeping it warm until you are ready to use it. Place a towel or something there for him to wash his hands as well.
Set up the area you are going to use for insemination. Make sure you have all of your “equipment” in good order and everything is clean. If travelling, pack it all up in bag or something that can be carried discreetly. Set up a tray or nightstand with your towel, syringe (if you’re using one), and any other equipment you need. Try to relax, although the butterflies will probably be working overtime, take a deep breath, but don’t be afraid of an attack of the nervous giggles. If you have a partner, enjoy this time together, be in the moment.
When your donor arrives, make him as comfortable as possible. Usually the agreement is that he will leave immediately after he delivers the sperm, so make sure you all understand what’s happening before you start. Show him where you want him to perform the donation and what receptacle to use.
If using a SoftCup the donor can deposit his donation directly into the cup, eliminating the need to transfer it via syringe, however if using this process then he’ll need to make a rapid exit as the only way to keep the contents warm is to get them in place.
If you used a specimen jar, keep the sperm in a warm and dark place until ready for them. Sperm thrives best at body temperature, so under your clothes against your skin, eg between your legs or down your bra if you are travelling, is a good place.
Draw the sperm up into the syringe, there are some opinions that you should wait up to 30minutes for the semen to liquefy, however I’m yet to see any man or animal wait 30 minutes, goods in hand, before inserting it, so it doesn’t really resonate any necessity. Plus with a 10ml luer slip syringe, the semen should be easily sucked up.
Sperm into SoftCup then insertion:
Lightly grease the inside of the SoftCup with the SMEAR of sperm-friendly lube and then GENTLY transfer the sperm into the SoftCup. The lube is not essential, it adds a PH neutral medium to help the sperm along their merry way.
The more relaxed your vagina is in this step, the less likely you are to spill any. Sit on the edge of the bed, or perched on the toilet. You can try lying on the bed with your hips raised if you partner is inserting the SoftCup for you. Regardless, make sure that you are not holding any tension in your pelvic floor, laughing at this moment is not advised.. . J
Fold the SoftCup in half with the semen at the bottom, pinching the top together. Insert it slowly into your vagina, keeping the top pinched close. If you can, try to keep the rim against the top of your vagina, it will allow space to minimize the pressure on the bottom of the cup and stop the sperm from being pushed out of the cup. Once half way in or more, push it the rest of the way in by the plastic rim. You’ll feel the front of the SoftCup slide into place behind your pubic bone and the back of it behind your cervix.
There are some great youtube clips on how to insert (although it doesn’t include inserting with semen in the cup)
Sperm into Syringe then insertion: Lay down with your hips raised up on a pillow and relax your body. Listening to music can help if you are nervous. If you can, get yourself a little worked up (sexually stimulated). Insert the syringe as far as it will go (if you feel it hit your cervix, back out a little). Depress the syringe slowly (“squirting” the semen on the cervix will only damage the sperm, it will not increase the rate of sperm entering the cervix). It may be a very good idea to leave the syringe in for 10-15 minutes as a “plug” to keep the semen up close to the cervix, unless you are using a Softcup after the syringe.
I cannot tell you the hilarity at what happens when you depress the syringe too quickly, resulting in the sperm to come flying out like a geyser, GENTLY, SLOWLY are all key words here when using this method!!
It should also be mentioned that you shouldn’t under no circumstances try to insert fresh sperm into the cervix. The cervix is the filter that separates the sperm from the semen, allowing the sperm to pass into the uterus. Inserting semen directly into the cervix can lead to infection. The goal is to get the semen as close to the cervix and to coat the outside if you can, but not to insert the syringe into the cervix.
If you want, this is a really good time to try to have an orgasm, as this helps the cervix dip into the seminal fluid and increases your body’s happy hormones. It can also be a wonderful bonding experience for your partner. Using the SoftCup allows for a freedom of movement and allows for easier intimacy, however working around a syringe can be quite entertaining.
If using the syringe remove it, and place it on the paper towel.
Lay back with your hips still raised on a pillow or two for at least 15 minutes. This is a great time to snuggle and imagine the formation of your child. Some books recommend you rotate your body every 10 minutes to swirl the semen around the cervix, but it’s up to you if you feel this is necessary (if you are using a SoftCup, this is not going to change anything really).
If you are not at home (for example. inseminating in your car): this is one reason we highly recommend the SoftCup, however insertion in a tight space can be tricky (which is where the practice runs come in handy). The SoftCup holds the semen up close to the cervix without requiring you to stay laying down, which can be very inconvenient if inseminating on the fly.
Dispose of the single use items, clean and sterilise everything else and pack it up for the net time, if you need to inseminate again.
If using a SoftCup, the most you should leave it in is about 12 hours. If you are inseminating in the evening, the easiest thing to do is leave it in overnight and remove it in the morning.
One important thing to remember, that if you do spill a bit, it’s ok, there is MILLIONS of sperm in a single drop, and it only takes one sperm to fertilise an egg. So if you do spill a little, it’s ok, relax… 🙂