I am not a doctor, midwife, or in any way trained on matters of fertility whatsoever. So please don't take anything you read here as definitive. Check out the book mentioned below, and talk to your own health care providers.
First things first, I should be very clear that lesbians (and trans men) get pregnant in a variety of ways. They might have sex with someone who has sperm or use anonymous/known donor sperm via a sperm donor clinic. They might use fertility treatments, including but not limited to IVF. And that's not even touching on the options of surrogacy, and adoption, and children created in prior relationships. Others, like me, use a known donor to donate fresh sperm and do at home inseminations. But "Making babies (one of the) lesbian way(s)" is sort of a weird title for a post.
So, anyway, where am I going with this? I have a friend. I'm going to call her Khaleesi because I just read that there are now more babies named Khaleesi than Betsy or Nadine in the US and that totally blows my mind. But that's not her real name. She doesn't want her sex life broadcasted on the internet. I know, weird right?
So, a little while ago, Khaleesi sends me a message asking for specific details regarding our artichoke jar inseminations. This throws me off-guard as I know that she is happily married to a cisgender man. But sometimes people send me messages asking for information for their sister, coworker, hairdresser's cousin's BFF, etc. So I give her my standard reply with a few specifics and point her to The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth, which was basically my bible during my trying to conceive process.
A few days later she sends me a long response thanking me for the information and tells me that she and her husband have been trying to get pregnant, without success, for 10 months now. They have two more months to try to conceive "naturally" before their doctor will give them a referral to a fertility clinic. And in the meantime their marriage is really suffering. Sex has become a chore and they are both frustrated, grumpy, and on-edge.
Khaleesi is taking her temperature each morning in an attempt to predict her most fertile period. This is called charting your basal body temperature and it's awesome for seeing patterns overtime to predict when one is going to ovulate (in addition to identifying some cycle issues that may be impairing fertility). But, in general, it tells you when you have ovulated rather than when you are about to ovulate so there is still some guess work to be done. And Khaleesi and Khal Drogo (also not his name but, hey, I figured I'd go with the Game of Thrones theme) are sick of the guessing game. Khal Drogo is really frustrated with the scheduled sex-on-demand that their attempts at baby-making are producing. And both of them were longing for the days when sex was spontaneous and fun.
To make matters worse, their work schedules don't line-up. She often gets home from work when he is sleeping and sometimes he needs to leave for work before she is awake. So, not only are they having sex that neither of them is enjoying, at least one of them is missing precious sleep to do it.
Enter: making babies the lesbian way.
After my detailed explanation of how to insert "donated" sperm, Khaleesi and Khal Drogo now have a system in place that is working much better for both of them. During their fertile window Khal Drogo gently nudges Khaleesi awake, and hands her a jar of fresh sperm and then heads out to work. She inseminates herself and then falls easily back to sleep.
"This is seriously life changing." She admitted to me recently. "We do this really wacky thing now where we have sex WHEN WE FEEL LIKE IT and it feels like so much pressure has been lifted off of our shoulders. There's no more fake moaning to try and speed him up so that I can get back to sleep before I'm totally awake. Lesbians have the best ideas. God, make sure you change my name if you write about this."
Of course, I am not saying that using this method of insemination is going to increase a straight couple's chances of getting pregnant. But if you are frustrated with your current attempts, and open to trying something new, this might help to take a bit of the pressure off. The general understanding is that inseminations done with fresh donor sperm are about as likely to result in pregnancy as heterosexual intercourse.
Curious about how to do it yourself? Keep reading….
What you will need (other than your bodies):
- A jar, bowl, or something with a lid to catch the sperm
- A needle-less syringe (most jokes about lesbian conception involve a turkey baster but a needle-less syringe is actually easier to use). The best size to use is 3-cc or 5-cc.
What to do:
Make sure the jar you are using is clean and dry. Encourage your partner to take his time producing the sperm. The more turned on he is the greater the volume of ejaculation will be. Decide how you want to do the hand-off. Is it less awkward if he leaves it on the counter for you? There's no right or wrong way as long as the sperm stays warm. Some people also think that sperm can be a bit sensitive to air and light so tell him to put the lid on the jar and dim the lights when he is done. When we did our inseminations, Tracy took the jar of sperm from Andy and then kept it warm in her sports bra until we were ready to inseminate.
I haven't been able to find a definitive amount of time that fresh sperm is "good" for. In The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth, Stephanie Brill suggests one hour (p.288) but other sources have said thirty minutes, ninety minutes, and even up to 24 hours. I am no expert so I can't give a solid answer.
Make sure the cap is off your syringe, that there is no needle in it, and that you have pushed all the air out. Put the tip of the syringe in the sperm and pull the plunger part back, so that the sperm is pulled up into the body of the syringe. Lie on your back and insert the syringe deep inside your vagina. Slowly push the plunger part so that the sperm enters your vagina. When you are done, slowly pull the syringe out. Doing this slowly will help the sperm to not fall out.
At this point you would do all the things that you would regularly do after intercourse. Some women like to lie with their hips up for twenty minutes. Others like to spend a few minutes on their back, stomach, and each side to help the sperm move around and find the cervix.
And that, my friends, is it.