How to Get Pregnant Without a Man
Having a man in your life isn't a prerequisite to have a baby. The wonders of modern medicine make it possible for you to conceive without needing a man to get you pregnant. Assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, offer you the option of starting a family without having sex with a man 1.
Choose the Sperm
Before you start any process to get pregnant, you need sperm. Trying to conceive without a man means that you need to go to a sperm bank. A professional, quality sperm bank tests all donors for sexually transmitted diseases as well as possible genetic diseases such as sickle cell or Tay-Sachs.
Aside from being disease-free, you may want to choose a donor from a specific race or someone who has looks, education and interests that match yours. This may include hair and eye color, skin color or personality traits such as outgoing or self-assured. While you don’t meet the donor, you can review an information sheet that includes a background and bio. You have the opportunity to browse through different donor information sheets, selecting the man who best fits your requirements.
In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization – or IVF – is a medical procedure that only a trained doctor can do for you 1. The doctor removes a few of your eggs, mixes them with donor sperm and transplants the fertilized embryos into your uterus. While it may sound simple, IVF may also require you to take hormones to stimulate egg release or to help maintain the pregnancy. Before the egg retrieval, the doctor may prescribe pills or injections to suppress ovulation so more eggs remain for the doctor to extract, notes the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology 6. After your period starts, the doctor may give you hormones to start the ovulation process. The doctor uses ultrasound and hormone measurements to judge when you’re ovulating. The retrieval is done in a medical office, using a needle guided by ultrasound images.
Embryo Transfer in IVF
The fertilization process happens at a lab, where a doctor injects each egg with a sperm. The eggs are then incubated and inspected to see if fertilization is taking place. The doctor will transfer the embryos to your uterus three to six days after fertilization. The doctor does this using a catheter that he inserts through your cervix.
Artificial Insemination Option
Artificial insemination – often called intrauterine insemination, or IUI – is an older procedure than IVF 34. Placing sperm into a woman’s uterus is an infertility treatment that has been in use since the early 1900s, according to the website Baby Center. Like IVF, you need donor sperm for this procedure. Depending on your cycle, you may need to take ovulation-stimulating hormones in preparation. For IUI to work, you must know exactly when you’re ovulating, although the doctor doesn't remove your eggs.
A doctor inserts the sperm into your uterus with a catheter during your peak ovulation time in the hopes that the sperm will find your eggs. If you have a mental picture of using a turkey baster at home to perform IUI, think again. Even though you can buy an at-home insemination kit to use with your sperm bank semen, having a doctor do the procedure in the office is advisable. The doctor has the training, techniques and know-how to complete IUI in a safe, healthy way.
There are several factors that impact the success of IVF or IUI. Your age, health and the quality of the sperm affect how easy it is for you to get pregnant. After your mid-30s, the success rate begins to decline, although the IVF success rates can be as high as 55 percent until age 35. The rates fall to about 49 percent for ages 35 to 37. Of the 80,783 IVF embryo transfers done with fresh non-donor eggs in 2012, there were 29,307 live births, notes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 5. Using multiple embryos at once doesn’t up the odds of getting pregnant. It does increase the chance that you’ll have multiples.
IUI success rates are roughly 20 percent per cycle, according to the American Pregnancy Association 4.
- Washington University Infertility and Reproductive Medicine Center: In Vitro Fertilization
- OHSU Center for Women's Health: Choosing a Sperm Donor
- Baby Center: Fertility Treatment: Artificial Insemination (IUI)
- American Pregnancy Association: Intrauterine Insemination -- IUI
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 2012 Assisted Reproductive Technology National Summary Report
- Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology: Success Rates
- shironosov/iStock/Getty Images