5 ways to get pregnant without sex

Sure, we’ve got climate change, a pandemic, and wealth inequality. But we’ve also got Taylor Swift, services that will deliver food to your home in 30 minutes, and modern medicine. (So the 21st century can’t be all that bad, right?)

Where we’re going with this is, thanks to modern medicine, there are ways to get pregnant without sex. Whether sex isn’t working for you because you’ve got fertility challenges, or sex isn’t an option for you because you’re going it solo (woohoo!) or you’re in a same-sex relationship (love is love is love, mama) there are ways and means of having a baby. Which we adore, because if you’re crazy enough to want to raise kids (we can say that, we’re moms!), you should damn well be able to. 

Without further ado, let’s explore five ways to get pregnant sans sex.

1. Fertility drugs 

Fertility drugs are medications that are commonly used to control ovulation. They come either in oral form or as an injection and are particularly useful for:

  • Women who need help stimulating ovulation (to know when to have sex, harvest eggs, or attempt a fertility treatment, for example).
  • Men who need assistance stimulating sperm production (yep, there are fertility drugs for men – this is not just a ‘girl thing’!). 

Three things to know:

  • Fertility drugs for women can encourage ovulation in 80 per cent of cases (yay!). 
  • Depending on the fertility drugs your doctor advises you to take, you might be shelling out anywhere from about $20 and up to $10,000 per month or dose.
  • Some fertility drugs have side effects like headaches, hot flashes, and mood swings (ugh – but just be prepared). 

2. Artificial insemination 

What is artificial insemination? Well, it’s a fertility treatment available for those looking to get pregnant. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the most common form of artificial insemination, and it involves inserting sperm from your partner or a donor directly into your or a gestational carrier’s uterus. So it might be a slightly less romantic but effective option for those: 

  • Who haven’t had luck conceiving by having sex or taking fertility drugs alone. 
  • With fertility troubles or hostile cervical mucus (you can have mucus in your cervix that literally fights off sperm – who knew?!). 
  • Using a sperm donor (like single moms and same-sex couples) or a gestational carrier (like women who cannot carry a pregnancy or those in a male same-sex relationship).

Three things to know:

  • IUI’s success rate depends on factors like your particular fertility issues, the quality of the sperm used, and your age. However, when combined with fertility drugs, the success rate can be as high as 20 per cent per IUI cycle. 
  • What does artificial insemination cost? IUI starts at about $900 per cycle. But there may be additional costs involved, like fertility drugs you might need to take, for example. 
  • Trying to get pregnant, in any form, can be unpredictable as f*ck. So you might need to do several rounds of IUI for it to work (hello $$$). 

3. IVF (in vitro fertilization)

What is IVF? IVF is a fertility treatment that involves harvesting eggs and sperm from you and your partner or a donor and fertilizing them in a lab to create a series of embryos. The most viable embryo is transferred into your or a gestational carrier’s uterus, where it will hopefully blossom into a little fetus. Cute! It might be an option for those:

  • Who haven’t yet conceived by taking fertility drugs or through IUI. 
  • With fertility challenges like blocked fallopian tubes, ovulation disorders, diminished ovarian reserve, low sperm count, PCOS, or endometriosis.

Three things to know:

  • How successful is IVF? It’s generally quite successful, but success rates do decline as you age. For example, if you’re under 35, you’ve got a 54.5 per cent chance of bringing home a baby per egg retrieval; over the age of 40, this drops to 13.8 per cent. 
  • How much does IVF cost, and is IVF covered by insurance? On average, IVF costs $12,000 per cycle. So you might need to factor this into your baby budget. Some insurers might cover part of the cost, so check with your insurer before commencing treatment
  • How long does IVF take? A complete cycle takes about three weeks. 

4. Donor eggs and sperm

These are eggs and sperm that are donated either by someone you know or someone anonymous. In the latter case, you might find your donor through an egg bank, a donor agency, or a fertility clinic. This might be an avenue for those undertaking IUI or IVF and can’t use their own eggs or a partner’s sperm, like single moms, same-sex parents, those using a gestational carrier, or older parents. 

Three things to know:

  • In the US, the success rate for IVF using a donor egg is 55.9 per cent per fresh embryo transfer and 40.2 per cent for frozen embryos. 
  • How much do egg donors make? Typically between $3,500 and $8,000 per donation. So if you’re using donated eggs for IVF, for example, you might pay anything between $20,000 to $35,000 per cycle (to factor in treatment costs too).
  • If using an egg donor, you won’t be genetically related to your baby, but your partner will. And vice versa if using a sperm donor.

5. Surrogacy

What is surrogacy? Surrogacy is where an individual or couple commissions another woman (a gestational carrier) to carry a pregnancy. The gestational carrier can get pregnant by either IUI or IVF, using one of the parents’ eggs/sperm or a donor’s eggs/sperm. You might find a gestational carrier through an agency, or they might be a friend or family member. 

It may be an option for those:

  • Who cannot carry a pregnancy for medical reasons (like having no uterus or uterus malformations, a history of preeclampsia, and repeat pregnancy loss or repeated IVF failure).
  • Who are unable to carry a pregnancy because they’re in a male same-sex relationship.

Three things to know:

  • Many factors affect success in surrogacy, like age, the number of embryos used, and whether women are using their own eggs. However, many fertility clinics report there’s a 95 per cent chance a healthy baby will be born once a gestational carrier is pregnant. 
  • Surrogacy might cost upwards of $100,000 when you factor in the gestational carrier, legal, agency, and IUI or IVF fees. 
  • Surrogacy can be a tricky, complicated process. It’s crucial to consider aspects like whether you want the gestational carrier to have a relationship with your baby after they’re born or what you’ll do if there are complications during pregnancy.

“F*ck no, I’m not ready for kids!”

If all this talk of babies and pregnancy has you freaking out, we hear you loud and clear, girl. (Seriously, we love our kids but we’d give anything for a night of silence and drinking wine on our own.) You too have an option: egg freezing. 

WTF, can you freeze your eggs

Yes! Freezing eggs is a procedure offered by fertility clinics and doctors where eggs are harvested from your ovaries, frozen, and stored away for later use. Once you’re ready to use your eggs, they’re thawed, fertilized with sperm, and implanted into you or a surrogate’s uterus via IUI or IVF. Cool, no? 

It’s freaking wonderful that there are different ways to get pregnant. Know that whatever your reason for seeking out an alternative way of having a baby, it’s super common to do so: in fact, 33 per cent of American adults report that they or someone they know has used fertility treatment. And ultimately, no matter how you bring a baby into your family, know it’s been done with love and the best way you can. 

This article does not replace medical advice. If any content has raised any questions about your health, ability to conceive, or family planning options, speak to your family doctor or a fertility specialist.

Read next: What’s your fertility by age? Here’s what to know

Reproductivefacts.org, Defining Fertility

Mayo Clinic, Female Infertility 

Verywell Family, Overview of Fertility Treatments

Verywell Family, Overview of Common Fertility Treatment Drugs

GoodRx, Clomiphene

GoodRx, Lupron

Verywell Family, What Is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?

Zarei A, Mahboubi M, Parsanezhad ME, Alborzi S, Younesi M, Madadi G. Effects of piroxicam administration on pregnancy outcome in intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycles: a randomized clinical trial. Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 2016;43(2):225-9. PMID: 27132415.

Verywell Family, What is IVF?

Verywell Family, The Chances for IVF Pregnancy Success

Verywell Family, How Much Does IVF Really Cost?

Verywell Family, Having a Child with Egg Donor IVF

Verywell Family, Becoming an Egg Donor

Verywell Family, How to Freeze Your Eggs for Elective Fertility Preservation

Mayo Clinic, Egg freezing

Verywell Family, Pros and Cons of Insurance Coverage for Egg Freezing

Verywell Family, Surrogacy 101: Get the Facts

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, Success Rates

American Surrogacy, How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?

Pew Research Center, A third of U.S. adults say they have used fertility treatments or know someone who has

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