Most women turn to their beau and their bedrooms—or kitchen floors, if that’s what you’re into—when they’re ready to make a baby. But for women who face medical issues, same-s*x couples, or even single ladies who no longer want to wait for Prince Charming, there are other options.
1. Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
With IUI—where sperm is matched with your egg inside your uterus—a woman can work with a partner, donor, or sperm bank. Each of those options come with their own set of variables: For example, you can choose a known donor or to go through a sperm bank; you can also get a fresh or frozen sample. An ob-gyn uses a catheter to introduce the sperm into your uterus (via your v**ina and cervix). “It’s simple, minimally uncomfortable, and similar to pap smear in terms of discomfort,” says Dweck. You may leave the office with mild cramps, but otherwise you’ll have zero recovery time. “I usually have patients lie with pelvis tilted for 10 minutes after the procedure,” says Dweck, “but then they are free to go about normal activities.”
The cost of IUI varies vastly between clinics, but you can expect to spend anywhere from $300 to $800 per cycle. Check with your insurance because some cover a few or even all cycles, says Dweck.
2. The “Turkey Baster” Method
“This is not something healthcare providers would typically condone,” says Dweck. To try it, you gather sperm—either from a known donor or by purchasing it through a sperm bank for $150 and up—and then “implant” it with, well, a turkey baster.
“It not painful,” says Dweck, “but sperm-friendly lube may be needed for comfort.” You’ll again have zero recovery time, and laying in a pelvic tilt for up to 10 minutes helps prevent the sperm from spilling out.
If you’re using an unknown or untested donor, you run the risk of infection or experiencing an allergic reaction, says Dweck. “You could also experience trauma from the insertion of the instrument, but that’s unlikely if done gently and with lube.”
3. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Most often, couples struggling to get pregnant—and who’ve exhausted other options—turn to IVF. Typically, you’ll head to an infertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist for this procedure, which is performed in a sterile office setting, says Dweck. The infertility specialist will prescribe you medications—some of which come with risks and side effects, such as nausea and faintness—to help stimulate the production of eggs. Then, the specialist will collect your eggs using a small needle guided through your pelvic cavity and combine them with sperm in a lab. Once the sperm and egg make an embryo, it’s placed back into your uterus via a catheter. While most women say IVF is a painless procedure, some can experience mild cramps post-insemination.
While having another woman carry your baby doesn’t technically get you pregnant, it’s still a viable solution for women struggling to conceive. An infertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist will use the IVF method to place the embryo into a surrogate’s uterus. The surrogate, says Dweck, may be genetically unrelated to the embryo. “Basically, this a rent-a-womb.”