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 improve their chances of getting 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 a form of artificial insemination, or as doctors call it, intracervical insemination. 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, you use a syringe or turkey baster to inseminate.
Who usually tries the turkey baster method?
The “turkey baster method” 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 or is simply not an option.
Here’s a list of scenarios where people may opt to try this form of home insemination:
- Couples that want an at-home option they can try before facing expensive clinical procedures like IUI, with no guarantees. This can include couples with Unexplained Infertility.
- Heterosexual couples who’ve become frustrated trying to conceive through sexual intercourse and want a break from the pressure.
- Same sex couples ready to start their family.
- People who are ready to become a parent without a partner. This includes single mothers by choice (SMC’s) or solo parents.
- Those dealing with vaginismus or vulvodynia, who find intercourse to be painful or uncomfortable.
- Those who experience erectile dysfunction or performance anxiety due to psychological pressure.
- People ready to co-parent together but not interested in sex with each other.
- People who opt for either frozen sperm or sperm from a known donor.
- Couples who face physical disabilities or are differently abled. (In these situations, the male must be able to achieve orgasm and/or it must be safe for the female to be pregnant).
Artificial Insemination at home can be helpful for people with obstacles not listed above as well. Prior to beginning your journey to conceive using this method, it is good to check in with your doctor to make sure that artificial insemination at home is right for you.
Mosie Baby’s founders, Maureen and Marc Brown struggled to conceive for 2.5 years. They found that failing over and over again took a toll on their marriage and sex life. So, the “turkey baster method” was something they wanted to try, not only to help them conceive, but also to help remove some of the shame, guilt, stress and other complicated feelings that many experience on their journey to conception.
The turkey baster method or any form of at-home insemination is only an option to consider for those who have a healthy uterus, at least one fallopian tube that is open, and consistently ovulates.
What do I need to do the “turkey baster method”?
The “turkey baster method” also known as intracervical insemination or ICI is the act of placing semen directly at or near the opening of the cervix. A turkey baster, the one used for cooking, is a large plastic tube attached to a rubber bulb, that’s made to suck up juices from a pan to pour over meat. While repurposing a turkey baster for insemination is possible,
many prefer to use a disposable syringe as they are generally easier to work with when it comes to insemination.
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 you’ll need:
- Healthy sperm specimen. If you’re not sure if your partner’s sperm is healthy, there are at-home kits available to test quality, quantity, and mobility. If you’re using donor sperm, sperm banks will screen, and analyze all sperm samples that they sell. They should have that information available for you to review.
- Acollection cup – preferably one that has a wide opening, isn’t too deep, and has a lid in case your sample needs to travel. Keep in mind fresh sperm should ideally be used within 20 minutes of ejaculation but can last for up to one hour.
- Adisposable syringe to transfer the semen. You may want to consider using a syringe that’s made for at-home insemination purposes - like Mosie. Mosie was designed 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 design elements, it has a slit opening that mimics mother nature to create a more gentle passage for the sperm. To learn more take a look here and check out an encouraging clinical study on "trying" with Mosie specifically here. The study reveals, among other things, that pregnancy rates with Mosie are comparable or superior to the pregnancy rates of both timed intercourse and intrauterine insemination (IUI) pregnancy rates.
How do I do it?
Timing is crucial when it comes to insemination and conception. It all starts with understanding your ovulation cycle – which you can learn how to do here.
When it’s your prime time for conception, you’ll want to have all of your tools ready to go – and a place where you can get horizontal for a bit, like your bed. Then there are just three simple steps:
- Collect the sample, or follow these steps on how to prepare your donor sample.
- Transfer the sample into the syringe.
- Insert the semen-filled syringe into the vagina, just like you would 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)!
Check out our detailed instructions and tips to maximize your success here at mosiebaby.com.
Is the “Turkey Baster” method safe for conceiving?
We can’t tell you about the risks or safety of using any other tool for insemination. However, we can tell you that this form of insemination has been safely done by thousands in the Mosie community.
When designing Mosie we consulted with a fertility specialist on getting the size right for most vaginas– which is about the size of a tampon. We also brought in a quality and regulatory specialist to ensure all of the materials were safe.
Mosie does not include any prescription drugs or medicines that could cause side effects. Mosie syringes are BPA, DEHP, latex-free, non-toxic, and non-pyrogenic- and they’re assembled in a medically licensed clean room in the United States.
All of this being said though, risk of infection is one reason Mosie syringes are single use. We do not recommend reuse for several reasons. Mosie, like any syringe, is made of moving parts that may become compromised, after even a single use. The rubber stopper specifically (on any syringe) loosens after each use and will eventually become unreliable. The stopper on Mosie (and most syringes) is also very lightly coated with a medically safe lubricant to ensure smooth movement which will deteriorate after washing. You will find that Mosie is not alone here, most manufacturers discourage using a syringe multiple times. That’s why we include two Mosie syringes in every kit - because more tries mean better odds at conception.
Does the “turkey baster method” work for getting pregnant?
The average success rate reported for intracervical insemination is between 10 and 15 percent per attempt, and that rate increases with additional tries.
For comparison sake, the average monthly success rate of traditional intercourse is about 15 to 20 percent - if you don’t have any medical conditions, you’re under the age of 35, and you’re having sex when you’re most fertile.
Intracervical insemination (ICI) success rates with Mosie specifically are quite favorable at 28.3% overall according to a recent clinical study which you can find here. This pregnancy rate is comparable or superior to both timed intercourse and IUI according to rates reported by the American Pregnancy Association.
No matter what route you choose to try and conceive, there are no guarantees you’ll be successful. There are many factors that impact your chances, like your age, if you’re using fertility medications, or if you have any 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. When our founders, Maureen and Marc, were struggling with unexplained infertility, they saw promise in the syringe/turkey baster method from a basic function standpoint. But they found the options to be severely lacking from a design standpoint. The products on the market were all quite uncomfortable and inefficient. Many would leak out semen while nearly all would trap a significant amount of sperm in the barrel, that would never get used. While an ordinary syringe may be ideal for some, they wanted a product that was made for its intended purpose, rather than repurposing things from around the house, which they had tried. That’s why they decided to design the first syringe specifically for insemination at home. After several prototypes, and with the input from a fertility specialist, Mosie was born! (pun fully intended)
Mosie's patent-pending design is ideal for your body, without any harsh edges, so it fits comfortably. Mosie is also designed to be easy to use - so you won’t need any help getting the sperm sample at or near the entrance of the cervix. Thankfully, Mosie has worked for a lot of people, including Maureen and Marc – who had the very first Mosie Baby! You can take a look at the many Mosie “turkey baster method” 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!