If you are looking to get pregnant by a sperm donor or co-parent then there are three main options:
- Fertility treatment at a clinic
- Artificial insemination at home
- Natural insemination (sexual intercourse)
In this section we are going to explore the option of natural insemination, the pros and cons and whether it is the right option to use.
What is natural insemination?
Natural insemination is another word for sexual intercourse and it is the method used for creating the majority of babies in the world today.
What are the advantages of natural insemination (NI)?
For some natural insemination may seem like a more natural way to create a baby. For those who feel comfortable with the idea of sex with their sperm donor, then it may seem logical as it does not require the use of a syringe or other artificial medical procedure.
Some may believe that natural insemination is superior to home insemination and that it achieves a higher rate of success than artificial insemination using a syringe. This reason may be stated by potential sperm donors as justification to encourage natural insemination, however there is no definitive evidence that sex is more effective than home insemination using a syringe. In fact there are many reports of fertile women becoming pregnant with home insemination within a few attempts and success rates appear to be similar to NI if performed using fresh sperm within the correct fertile window.
What are the disadvantages of natural insemination (NI)?
There are certain disadvantages to using natural insemination when using a sperm donor. These fall into three categories which we will talk more about:
If you choose to use a sperm donor and conceive via natural insemination then the donor WILL be classed as the legal father in the eyes of the law. This is regardless of whether you are single, married or in a civil partnership. This is a disadvantage for both the recipient and the donor. For the recipient it means that the sperm donor could potentially claim for custody rights and for the donor it would mean that the recipient could claim for child maintenance.
If your sperm donor is donating by means of natural insemination and has donated by this method previously then they will carry a higher risk of sexual disease. It is also important to be aware that STI tests do not show as positive if the donor has caught the infection recently (for example in the past month). In addition donating by natural insemination is a higher risk for donors as they may pick up an STI from their recipients, whereas they would not put themselves at risk if they donate by artificial insemination.
Having natural insemination may affect many people emotionally in different ways, depending upon personal circumstances:
- As a single straight woman you may feel an emotional attachment to your donor if you choose natural insemination and may view your donor as a potential father for your child.
- As a lesbian woman you may feel pressurised and uncomfortable with the option of natural insemination even if the intention is purely to create a baby.
- If you are in a relationship then having natural insemination with your donor will undoubtedly be uneasy for you and will potentially put a strain on your relationship, regardless of whether your partner is in agreement or not.
Should I use natural insemination?
For the above reasons above we do not recommend natural insemination as a method of conceiving using a known sperm donor.
The only instance in which natural insemination may be of consideration is if you are both single and intending to co-parent and raise the child together, after getting to know your co-parent over a period of time. However this said, many people who are choosing to co-parent are not wishing to find a relationship but rather a potential mother or father for their child and the co-parenting relationship may often be more amicable if there is no romantic relationship.
What are the alternatives?
We recommend using home insemination or IUI at a fertility clinic in order to conceive, depending upon your circumstances and preferences.
If you are a single woman then to protect your legal rights and those of the donor, then conception should ideally take place at a regulated fertility clinic.
If you are married or in a civil partnership then home insemination is an option, although health screening checks should be performed and a legal donor agreement prepared stating that conception is by artificial insemination.
Advantages of home insemination
For those who do not like the idea of too much medical intervention, then home insemination can be a comfortable method of creating a baby, which has many advantages:
- Relaxed home setting
- Low cost syringe or home insemination kit
- Able to use fresh sperm - better success than frozen
- Able to involve partner in the conception experience
Note: Before trying to conceive please seek legal advice and health screening for your donor.