Alternative Insemination

Helping Families Grow Since 1983

Fenway Health has always been a pioneer for LGBTQIA+ prospective parents and was one of the first in the nation to offer artificial insemination services to lesbians. Today we continue to provide medical alternatives for achieving conception for anyone with a uterus, regardless of whether they are single, married, partnered, part of the LGBTQIA+ community (or not).

Our Alternative Insemination (AI) Program provides office inseminations 365 days a year with frozen donor sperm. We also teach home insemination methods using frozen or fresh sperm. Our program serves those who are fertile and 43 years old or younger. We can even work with people who live out of town or state. We provide both intrauterine insemination (IUI) as well as intracervical insemination (ICI). We have working relationships with several fertility centers for those who require a higher level of care such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

We provide education, resources, support, referrals, and create access to sperm banks’ donors. Fenway’s AI program teaches:

  • ovulation prediction
  • sperm bank choices
  • issues to consider when choosing to work with known or anonymous donors
  • legal issues for LGBTQIA+ couples
  • resources for alternative families and single parents by choice
  • and more!

The first step to joining Fenway Health’s AI program is to attend our orientation session, which is held virtually every other month (January, March, May, July, September, November). The AI Orientation provides an overview of alternative insemination and specific details about the AI Program at Fenway Health. The cost for this orientation is $50 per family.

For more information email aiprogram@fenwayhealth.org. Click here to register for orientation.

Knowing whether and when you ovulate is essential for inseminating when your fertility is optimal. If you have not already started, begin charting your ovulation by regular observations of your cycle and by using an ovulation predictor kit (OPK). We will need to know:

– When day 1 of your cycle is (first day of bright red bleeding)
– How many days your period lasts
– What cycle day your OPK turns positive

Ovulation Predictor Kits (required):

We require the use of ovulation predictor kits (OPK) to verify that the LH surge has occurred. This surge usually proceeds and predicts ovulation, which will occur 24-36 hours later. You can use any kit brand and can purchase at pharmacies or online. They cost between $15-60 and come with instructions.

Observe a definite negative test before the kit turns positive. When in your insemination cycle, test twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Once your kit has turned positive, stop testing. Test with an OPK for 3 cycles before your enrollment visits.

Cervical Mucus Changes (optional):

To observe changes in the cervix and cervical mucus, you will need a speculum, a hand-held mirror, and a flashlight. You can get a speculum from your health care facility. Specula come in different sizes. If you have given birth vaginally, you might try a large. If you can comfortably fit three fingers in the vagina, you might try a medium. Otherwise, you can try a small. Even though these are plastic, you can wash them with warm water and hand soap after each use and re-use again (never share a speculum with another person).

For home-based insemination, it can be useful to observe your cervical mucus to determine when it is fertile. Fertile mucus is more stretchy, slippery and usually clearer, like egg white, as opposed to white and tacky or creamy. You can identify this mucus either on the vulva or labia (vaginal opening) or by using a speculum to observe it on the cervix. Record your observations of the consistency and color of your mucus daily during the week in the middle of your cycle (usually days 10 through 20). Record changes of your os (the opening of the cervix). The os will gradually become more open as you approach ovulation. The cervix appears softer and higher around the time of ovulation.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Charting (optional):

Another method to use for fertility screening and for estimating the time of ovulation is by charting daily oral temperatures. Your temperature is lower during the first part of the menstrual cycle than it is during the last 2 weeks. The temperature shift occurs after ovulation. We assume that ovulation occurs when there is a rise of 0.4 to 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit or more between 24-hour readings.

Folate is a B Vitamin found in a variety of foods and added to many vitamins and mineral supplements as Folic Acid. Folate is needed both before and during pregnancy to help reduce the risk of certain serious and common birth defects called Neural Tube Defects (Spina Bifida), which affect the brain and spinal cord.

Neural Tube Defects can occur in an embryo before you realize you are pregnant. That is why it is important for all who are planning a pregnancy to begin taking a Folic Acid supplement at least three months before planned insemination.

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends those of reproductive-age and those planning a pregnancy to take: Folic Acid 0.4mg (400 micrograms) daily starting at least three months before conception. This dose of Folic Acid can be found in form of a Vitamin Supplement or Prenatal Vitamin.

Other ways to increase your Folate intake is through diet. Foods rich in Folate include; fortified breads and grain products, fruits, dark-green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas.

If you have any questions regarding the use of Folic Acid, Diet, Exercise or Life Style, please discuss them with your Primary Care Provider, or your OB/GYN. It is important to begin preparing your body now as you plan your future pregnancy.

The following laboratory tests and a physical examination are required before acceptance into the AI Program:

  • Up to date Cervical Cancer Screening

The following tests must be done within 1 year of AI enrollment visit:

  • Physical Examination  (visit notes, including blood pressure and BMI)
  • Chlamydia (cervical culture or urine test)
  • GC (cervical culture or urine test)

The following tests must be done within 6 months of AI enrollment visit:

  • HIV antibody
  • Blood Group/Rh factor (or proof of blood group/Rh factor) and Antibody Screen
  • HBsAG surface antigen (Hepatitis B)
  • Rubella Titer (or proof of vaccination)
  • Syphilis testing
  • Hemoglobin A1c, if diabetic or pre-diabetic

The following tests are recommended:

  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy)
  • Jewish genetic panel (includes Tay Sachs)
  • Tay Sachs (if French-Canadian descent)
  • Sickle Cell (if African American descent)
  • Thalassemia (if Southeast Asian)

The following tests may be indicated:

  • HCV (Hepatitis C)
  • Varicella (Chicken Pox)

For More Information:

september, 2021

“Meeting My Sperm-Donor Dad”

In February 2011, The Good Men Project Magazine featured a piece written by Ben Sommer, who was conceived through Fenway’s Alternative Insemination Program and raised by two lesbian moms. It tells the story of him meeting his sperm donor father. The story is published in two parts:

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