Natural vs Artificial Insemination

Natural Insemination (NI) and Artificial Insemination (AI) are two of the most popular methods of getting pregnant with donor sperm. Understanding what is involved and what the success rates are for these two options will give you a good starting point. Here’s what you need to know.

Natural Insemination vs Artificial Insemination: Which Is Right for You?

Lesbian couples and single women who need help to conceive with donor sperm have two options to getting pregnant:

1) Natural Insemination (NI)


2) Artificial Insemination (AI)

What is Natural Insemination?

Natural insemination is a term used to describe sexual intercourse between a sperm donor and his recipient.

The term defines the act of getting pregnant through insemination where there is no sexual relationship however there is sexual contact in the form of intercourse.

Natural insemination is a highly successful method to getting pregnant. It is fast and efficient however it does carry risks and there are important points to consider.


What are the risks of Natural Insemination?

The risk of NI for both sperm donor and recipient are sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). Both parties should ensure they are tested for STI’s before insemination takes place.

It is important to consider that many infections would not be visible in blood tests until 4-6 weeks after catching an infection.


Is NI right for you?

Having sex with a sperm donor is something that a lot of thought needs to be put into. At first glance you may think that NI is an action that can be performed without any emotional connection between you and your donor.

However, NI is both a physical and emotional act. There must be trust and consideration from both parties.

There will be an aspect of commitment as NI may need to be repeated over 2-3 days each and every month until pregnancy is achieved.


What is Artificial Insemination?

Artificial insemination is the clinical procedure of injecting sperm into the vagina or uterus through treatments such as IUI or IVF.

We also need to consider that AI can be simplified and performed at home through vaginal insemination. This term is known as home insemination.


What is Home Insemination?

Home insemination is the process of injecting sperm into the vagina using a sterile syringe. The procedure is carried out in the comfort of your own home. Home insemination is popular with single women and lesbian couples using donor sperm to get pregnant. Many heterosexual couples who cannot afford artificial insemination at a clinic now opt for home insemination.


NI vs AI: what are the differences?

The differences between NI and AI are:


  • AI at a clinic means that all necessary health and fertility tests have been undertaken.
  • With NI there is actual body contact. AI requires no body to body contact.
  • No sperm sample needs to be produced for NI as it is ejaculated directly into the woman’s vagina. AI requires ejaculation into a specimen cup.
  • You do not need to meet or have any contact with a sperm donor for AI.
  • AI at a clinic means that legally a donor will have no rights or responsibilities to the child. Conceiving a child through NI gives the sperm donor parental legal rights and responsibilities.
  • AI at a clinic carries a considerable cost. Procedures such as IUI and IVF can run in 3 figure sums. NI is free.


NI vs AI: What are the benefits?

Natural Insemination Artificial Insemination at a clinic
People have been successfully getting pregnant from NI for millions of years. If both donor and recipient are fertile, it is the most efficient way to get pregnant.


AI at a clinic takes away any concern about sperm donor health and fertility as all tests are carried out by the clinic.
It is free. There are no legal sperm donor parental rights or responsibilities following AI at a clinic.
You get to know your sperm donor. It is safe as it is performed in sterile conditions.
It is performed in the comfort of your own home. You will know your statistical chances of getting pregnant.
No lengthy waiting lists. AI is a great option for lesbian women.
NI is highly successful in achieving pregnancy.


The AI process can help diagnose fertility issues.


NI vs AI: Is it safe?

NI carries the following risks:

  • You are relying on your sperm donor to provide health and fertility tests therefore the risk of infection is high.
  • A sperm donor could have become infected after any health tests have been completed.
  • You are essentially having sex with a relatively unknown person.
  • A sperm donor may not actually be fertile enough to achieve pregnancy.
  • A sperm donor may carry genetic conditions.

AI is essentially a risk free process however there are some side effects for IVF treatment which can include:

  • Mild cramping
  • Mild bloating
  • Constipation
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Decreased urinary frequency
  • Shortness of breath
  • Faintness
  • Severe stomach pains and bloating
  • Ten-pound weight gain within three to five days


NI vs AI: What are the legalities?

Getting pregnant through natural insemination will result in a sperm donor having full parental rights and responsibilities.

Donors who conceive children through artificial insemination at a clinic do not have any parental rights or responsibilities.

Pregnancies that result from the process of home insemination will likely lead to the sperm donor having parental rights or responsibilities unless a legal known donor agreement is in place.



How can you decide which method is the right decision for you?

Deciding how to become pregnant with a sperm donor is a very personal choice but you do have options.

  1. Artificial insemination at a clinic
  2. Home insemination
  3. Natural insemination

Point to consider:

  • Do you want your donor to have parental rights and responsibilities?
  • Would you like to meet your sperm donor?
  • Do you qualify for AI procedures at a clinic?
  • Can you afford AI procedures?


It is not unusual to have concerns about using a sperm donor. Raising a child born from a donor you do not know can cause complex emotional issues within your family. Your child may well wonder about their biological roots as they grow older.

You need to consider the cost of AI treatment, and be prepared for a negative outcome if it is not successful.

Meeting a sperm donor face to face, getting to know him, and then entering a physical relationship for the purpose of getting pregnant can be an emotional test. This procedure is cost free and efficient however your donor will have rights to your child.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to getting pregnant with a sperm donor.