This article was medically reviewed by Sarah Marsh, RN, CNM, MSN, MPH.
Infertility and obstacles to insemination are not a new phenomenon. People have been looking for ways to get pregnant for centuries. You might have heard of the oldest technique to help people conceive referred to as the “turkey baster method”. We’re going to explain - what it is, how it works, and who should try it.
What is the turkey baster method?
The “turkey baster method” is terminology sometimes used interchangeably with all forms of intracervical insemination at home. Intracervical Insemination (ICI) is when sperm is delivered directly into a woman’s reproductive tract, right at or near the cervical opening – which is the doorway to the uterus.
This method is functionally the same as male/female intercourse – except instead of using a penis to inseminate, a syringe is used to inseminate.
The term “turkey baster method” originated from people actually using a turkey baster, which is a kitchen tool. A turkey baster, if you are not familiar, is a large plastic tube attached to a rubber bulb that's made to suck up juices from a pan to pour over meat.
It is NOT recommended to actually use a turkey baster or any other kitchen tool or misappropriated tool to transfer semen into the vagina. Rather, it is recommended to use a disposable syringe.
Who usually tries the turkey baster method?
The “turkey baster method”, also called ICI, can be a sensible option for many people. Generally speaking it makes sense when insemination through intercourse between a man and a woman either isn’t working, is getting stressful, or is simply not an option. Consult your doctor if timed intercourse is not working, or if ICI does not successfully result in pregnancy within 6 months of trying. ICI is not intended to treat infertility.
Prior to trying to conceive with this method, it is good to check in with your doctor to make sure that artificial insemination at home is right for you.
Who should not do ICI? Do not do ICI if you or your sperm source have been diagnosed with no sperm in semen (azoospermia), blocked Fallopian tubes or have no Fallopian tubes, a sexually transmissible disease, virus, or infection (including active herpes, hepatitis, HIV), or if you do not ovulate. Do not do ICI if it is unsafe for you to become pregnant. Do not do ICI if you are unsure if you have any of these conditions or if you do not know if it is unsafe for you to become pregnant.
The turkey baster method or any form of at-home insemination is only an option to consider for those who have a healthy uterus and consistently ovulates.
What do I need to do the “turkey baster method”?
The great news is that the most common way to do an intracervical insemination is in the comfort of your own home! Here’s what is needed:
- Healthy sperm specimen. There are at-home kits available to test quality, quantity, and mobility. When using donor sperm, sperm banks will screen, and analyze all sperm samples that they sell. They should have that information available for review.
- Acollection cup – preferably one that has a wide opening, isn’t too deep, and has a lid in case the sample needs to travel. Keep in mind fresh sperm should ideally be used within 30 minutes of ejaculation but can last for up to one hour.
- A disposable syringe to transfer the semen. There are syringes that are specially designed for this process - like Mosie. Mosie's patented designed was made to fit comfortably inside the vagina. It doesn’t have a barrel at the tip, which can be both uncomfortable and waste a significant amount of semen, And among other thoughtful unique design elements, it has a slit opening that mimics mother nature.
How do I do it?
Timing is crucial when it comes to insemination and conception. It all starts with understanding the ovulation cycle – which we have a video about here.
When it’s prime time for conception, have everything ready to go – and a place to get horizontal for a bit, like a bed. Then there are just three simple steps:
- Collect the sample
- Transfer the sample into the syringe.
- Insert the semen-filled syringe into the vagina, just like a tampon. Then push the plunger to release the sample, and remove the syringe.
- Kick back and relax – for 15 to 30 minutes. It also helps to prop up your hips under a pillow. Don’t worry if some of the sample still slides out, that’s totally fine (gravity plays a significant role and remember - it only takes one)!
- Discard the used syringe
Check out our detailed instructions here at mosiebaby.com.
Does the “turkey baster method” work for getting pregnant?
According to a study published in the journal human reproduction, the success rate for ICI is 37.9% after 6 ICI cycles.
Consult your doctor if timed intercourse is not working, or if ICI does not successfully result in a pregnancy within six months of trying.
No matter the route to try and conceive, there are no guarantees of success. There are many factors that impact chances, like age, fertility medications, and underlying medical conditions, to name a few.
How does Mosie compare to the turkey baster method?
We think of Mosie as “The Turkey Baster Method Evolved”! We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather improve upon it.
Mosie's patented design is unique, without any harsh edges, so it fits comfortably. Mosie is also designed to be easy to use. Thankfully, Mosie has helped a lot of people inseminate, including Maureen and Marc – who had the very first Mosie Baby! You can take a look at the many Mosie success stories here.
And please feel free to reach out if we can help answer any questions you may have. We’re happy to help support you on your journey as best we can, no matter what path or method you choose. Our best to you!