Our Experience With IUI Insemination at a Fertility Clinic 

I have been dying to write this post for you for awhile, but I wanted to wait until we had fully gone through the entire IUI process first so I could give you a clear picture from start to finish of what we went through. 

That’s right, I’ve officially been inseminated! As in, today. Like, two hours ago. Which means, no, I don’t know if I’m pregnant or not. But let’s just say that if I’m not, then maybe I will be by the time I finish writing this post. 

Positive, hopeful thoughts only around here. 

Chances are if you’re reading this, you might be considering IUI for you and your family. Or, maybe you’re just curious how it all works, because a loved one is going through it. Either way, the purpose of this blog is to break down the steps, offer a little advice based on my experience, and virtually hold your hand through your own process. 

I know that entering the fertility journey can be daunting, even when you’re super ready. Which is why I love to think that this post just might offer a warm hug of support in someone’s time of need. Because, let’s face it, even with the most supportive partner in the world- they’ll still never know what our bodies go through when it comes to baby making. So, I’ll be your fertility buddy, okay?

Our Experience With IUI Insemination at a Fertility Clinic

What is IUI?

IUI stands for intrauterine insemination, which is a fertility treatment that increases the chances of sperm fertilizing an egg. IUI is something that same sex couples (like me and my wife) might choose for their fertility process. Or, it’s something that straight couples might seek out if they’re having trouble conceiving on their own. 

I was under the false impression that it was essentially the same as regular ‘ole sex, where you shoot sperm up in there (into the vagina, I mean) during peak ovulation. While it is true that sperm is injected during peak ovulation, the biggest difference is that it’s not simply injected into the vagina- but actually straight into the cervix. This is important, because it means the sperm doesn’t have to travel as far to reach an egg, which gives it a much higher chance of actually happening. 

IUI is much less invasive than IVF, because you don’t need to harvest your eggs or implant an embryo. However, there are still a lot of required tests needed before you start. And, there are still some additional hormones involved. 

Choosing Sperm

This has to be one of the most common questions we get:

“How did you choose your sperm donor?”

So, we talked about this pretty extensively in a podcast episode a while back. But I’ll do a brief recap here in case you don’t want to listen to the whole thing. 

Alix and I decided we didn’t want to use the sperm of someone that we knew. We actually had two different people offer their sperm to us. Which was so kind, generous, and truly touching. However, upon further consideration- we just didn’t feel fully comfortable with it. 

Sperm Costs

We decided to use a sperm bank for a fully random donor. I’m not going to lie, we definitely wanted to know what this dude looked like! Mostly because we wanted to try to choose someone that really would be a blend of us both. 

I mention this because you’d think it would just be common courtesy to include photos of the donors. Nope. You can see baby photos (I’m sorry, but who cares what they look like as babies), but in order to see adult photos you had to pay the $250 membership fee. On top of the payment, the selection also drastically decreases, because donors get to choose whether or not they want to submit photos. 

We started with hundreds of options. But when we paid for the adult photo selection there were only SIXTEEN to choose from. And, to be honest, none of them felt like the right one. So, we ended up getting a membership at another bank, instead. 

Luckily for us, we found the guy we wanted at the second bank so we didn’t have to keep shelling out $250 fees. But still, spending $500 just to find someone. 

Next, you have to actually buy it. And it’s not cheap. 

One vial of sperm was $1,200. 

And even if you have incredible insurance benefits and coverage (like we do), they don’t cover the cost of sperm. 

One vial of sperm is one shot. Most people need up to 3 tries for IUI to work. Not only that, but if you know you want to have multiple children, then you’ll probably also want to buy sperm from the same person so that the children are blood related through and through. 

In the end, we bought 7 vials, which meant we dropped almost $10k just for the sperm. 

Wild, isn’t it?

These costs alone are a huge reason why many queer women look for a donor they’ll know. Alix and I have a ton of privilege when it comes to our financial health. And, we also planned and saved for this since literally week one of dating (classic lesbian move, I know). 

My advice for you would be to plan for these costs well in advance to when you actually want to start trying in an effort to keep your stress levels as low as possible when you’re in the process. 

Remember, even if you use someone you know, you’ll still have to pay for the sperm to be tested, cleaned, and stored. 

How To Choose the Best Fertility Clinic For You

A key piece of advice here: take your time. 

I know this isn’t always possible, particularly for couples who have been trying to conceive naturally, and then turn to a fertility clinic for help. In that case, I know you’re probably already feeling “behind,” and will do anything to cram all these tests in before your next cycle. 

If you can, plan ahead- then I would highly suggest that for your own stress levels. Like I said, Alix and I knew we wanted to make a baby from day one. And we had a timeline of when we’d want to try for a long time. This meant that when we were about 9 months out from when we’d actually try, we started the process. 

This gave us 9 MONTHS to prepare, take things slow, and not overload my body or my mind. Keep in mind, we also live in Nicaragua half of the year, so we didn’t want to squeeze five million appointments in each time we came back to the States. Trust me, even though we spaced it out, it was still overwhelming at times. This is why I strongly suggest taking your time if you can. 

Next, you’ll want to read reviews (of course). But also ask trusted friends, family members, or doctors if they have specific recommendations. 

If you’re a queer couple like we are, make sure you know if the clinic has any particular reputation for how they treat queer couples. You wouldn’t think this would still be a thing in today’s day and age, but it definitely is. You want to feel comfortable, safe, and accepted in this environment- so this is important. 

My acupuncturist is also one of my close friends, who happened to grow up in the area, AND was pregnant herself at the time. She’s incredibly plugged into the medical community, so I turned to her for a recommendation. Additionally, one of our close friends just used this same clinic to conceive their first child. So we felt like we were in pretty good hands. 

Testing Needed for IUI

I’m sure every clinic might vary slightly, so my experience might be different from your plan. But, for the most part, fertility clinics have pretty rigorous requirements and testing needed before they’ll do the IUI. So, no, you can’t just walk in there when you’re ovulating with your vial of sperm, and expect them to inseminate you.

Once you land on your clinic of choice, you need to set up a new patient appointment just to get into their system. A lot of places will even do this virtually, which is super helpful if you’re busy or travel a lot. Usually they just want to hear what you want to do, and then they’ll order the blood work you’ll need, and get you scheduled for the tests within the clinic. 

This is a fertility clinic, so the first thing they’ll want to do is test your fertility levels. This means a vaginal ultrasound to get an egg count, bloodwork to see your hormonal levels, a saline ultrasound to check for polyps, and contrast flush of your fallopian tubes to make sure they’re functioning properly. 

They’ll also send you to your doctor for a standard pap smear, and a few other STD cultures that can be done from a urine sample. Last, you’ll have to give MORE blood to check for a variety of diseases (like HIV) before you’re cleared to start. 

Don’t think you can just schedule these tests when it makes sense for you. They all need to be done on specific days of your cycle. 

My Struggles Before IUI

This is where it really came in handy to have things spaced out for me. I’ve experienced sexual abuse and assault in my lifetime, so vaginal ultrasounds and pap smears and anything pelvic can be *triggering* for me. I know I’m not alone in this, which is why I want to share. 

Although I’ve worked on this extensively in therapy- that trauma is still in my body, and when it’s physically aggravated then it can really impact my mental health. Look, I know that I need to get comfy with tons of nurses and doctors between my legs from here on out- because it only continues into pregnancy and birth. But I also knew that it would be helpful for me to take things slow to start, so I could just kind of get used to it, I guess. 

I’m really glad I did, because I honestly had a really hard time. 

Without going into too much detail, the saline ultrasound was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. The doctors also told me I was “just sensitive,” and made me feel like an idiot for actually throwing up with pain. 

On top of that, they did find two polyps in my womb during the saline ultrasound, which they said they needed to surgically remove. They told me this wasn’t something I would need to go under for, but after the pain I experienced from the saline ultrasound, I refused to do it awake. I also got second and even THIRD opinions who were shocked that a doctor would do it without anesthesia, not only from the pain- but also because it’s really dangerous if the patient clenches or flinches at all when they’re inside of you with a scalpel. 

After a lot of tears, arguments, and refusal- they agreed to put me under. This was another thing- the clinic we chose is highly unorganized. Someone is always saying something different to you each time you call. 

Oddly enough, after weeks of back and forth- the person I talked to was like:

“Yeah, no problem we do that in the clinic all the time. We have an anesthesiologist.” 

Okay, what?

Literally the OPPOSITE of what I’d been told. 

But, I didn’t care at that point- because at least it was going to get sorted. 

I ended up having minor complications from the surgery itself. I’m a low blood pressure girlie, but it dropped SO low after the procedure that they had to monitor me for a few hours. Honestly, I didn’t even know it could go that low, and you could still be alive. Whatever. I was just happy I wasn’t in pain. 


I ended up spiking a high fever, and had shooting pain- which we assumed was an infection. It landed us in the emergency room until the late hours of the night. Luckily they couldn’t find an infection anywhere. So it just must’ve been my sensitive little body not happy about the cutting. I don’t know. 

All I know is that it was a really rough 48 hours. 

When I have pelvic pain, my PTSD and anxiety flares right up. Like I said, the trauma is in my body. On a mental level I feel totally fine, I feel healed, and have even forgiven the things that have happened to me. But my body. My body remembers. 

Needless to say, the few months of testing combined with the surgery (with my wedding in between, by the way) were rough. As excited as I was about the process, the intensity of the triggers was really depleting. And it totally wiped me out for a bit. 

I get so frustrated at my body and my mind when my PTSD flares. I wonder:

Will this ever go away?

And sometimes even enjoy a nice little pity party for a solid 30 minutes, or so.

But then I pick myself up, and I move on. For my wife, for our future kids, for myself. I refuse to let these experiences control and define me. And also, I accept that they are a part of me. 

It’s that dance between moving forward, and acceptance of what is, that’s tough, isn’t it? That’s the whole balancing act thing we all act like we have down, but really we’re just trying to figure out every single day. 

How To Lower Your Stress Levels

Lowering stress levels is helpful for all areas of life. And it’s something you’ve heard me reference multiple times in this post. It’s something your doctors and friends will encourage you, as well. It can be hard to maintain low stress levels when you’re going through this incredibly vulnerable, raw, and EXPENSIVE process. 

But there are a few tips I have that definitely take the edge off. 

Take Your Time

Time. Take your time. 

If you’ve also experienced sexual assault or violence, and you know that your body remembers those stories- give yourself time. Don’t overwhelm your system more than it will already be in this process. 

Plan Ahead Financially

This is an expensive process, even when you have great insurance. Make sure you have a nice little nest egg dedicated just for your fertility process that will be MORE than enough than what you think you need. 

This is huge in taking stress off, because financial stress is incredibly challenging to overcome- given we can’t just pull money out of thin air and fix the problem. Planning ahead, budgeting, and saving more than you think you need will ensure that even if something takes you off guard pricing-wise, you’ll be prepared and ready to handle it. 


I’ve been on a daily meditation kick for over six months now, and just….wow. It has changed the game for my mental health and stress levels. If you’re stuck on how to meditate, highly recommend checking out my app for guided meditations across the board. 

Otherwise, just think of it as a few quiet minutes to be with yourself at some point in your day. Oftentimes, when we’re stressed the last thing we want to do is sit still and breathe with our eyes closed- but I promise you, it will help. 

Support System

Whether you’re doing it alone, or with a partner- make sure you have a support system. I put Alix in charge of actually booking my appointments for me, just to take something off my plate in the process- and it helped a lot. She also drove me to most of my appointments, as well. 

This is not something you need to do alone. Ask for help. People in your life want to support you, but sometimes they don’t know until you ask. 


I’m a big TCM girlie, and have been a patient of acupuncture for 12 years now. This is something that has helped me in so many areas of my health- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Highly recommend finding an acupuncturist near you, and asking them to support you through herbs, as well. 

Home Stretch: The Week of IUI

Okay, so you’ve done the tests, the meditations, the herbs, the acupuncture, and you have all the support you could ever need. 

It’s go-time. 

At our clinic it looked like this:

Call on day one of my period to let them know my cycle started. They will order the Clomid (oral hormones to ensure ovulation), and ask you to come in around Day 3 of your cycle for a check up. 

The check up looks like a vaginal ultrasound to check your ovaries (making sure there’s no cysts), endometrial lining, and hormone levels. Assuming everything is all good, they give you the Clomid to start taking for the next 5 days. 

You’ll also need to call the sperm bank where your sperm is stored to make sure it arrives at the clinic around Day 10 of your cycle (you want it to get there a little earlier than your day 12 appointment, just in case). 

I didn’t really have too harsh of side effects from the Clomid, by the way. I felt a little more irritable than usual, and had night sweats one night- but otherwise, it was very mild. 

They got us on the books for day 12 of my cycle, knowing that this could be the earliest day for insemination. In between those two appointments, they tell you to start taking prenatal vitamins if you’re not already (I take Theralogix). 

We came in on day 12 (today!!!) really thinking the actual insemination would be a few days later. The check up is meant to check your follicle size to get a good idea of the best day for insemination. To our surprise, my follicles were ready to go!

They told us to wait about 30 minutes for the sperm to thaw. This was also the time in which you’re meant to take your trigger shot, which is a hormonal injection that ensures the egg actually drops. The nurse asked me to unbutton my pants, squeezed the fat in my low belly, and jabbed it right in. 

Instead of waiting in the freezing waiting room, we went to go pick me up a pizza, because I figured I’d want something yummy after it was all said and done. 

By the time we came back, the sperm was ready. I got set up like how I would for a pap smear, feet in the stirrups and all. They open you up (no lube, because it kills sperm), and put a catheter into the cervix to shoot the sperm in. The nurse told me to “think happy thoughts” while she was doing it, which I thought was kind of cute. 

They instructed you to lie there for 5 minutes after, and were nice enough to dim the lights and leave the room. Alix and I took the opportunity to meditate together, trying to connect to the spirit of the babies. 

We’re ready for you. 

Was all I kept saying. 

After the 5 minutes are up, you put your pants on, and carry on with your day. Wild. 

Our whole life just changed, but the world somehow looks the same. 

They told us it can take up to 3 days, so it might not necessarily happen today. In 10 days, we will go back for a blood test to check progesterone levels. If they’re rising, that’s a good indication you’re pregnant- although it’s not the end all and be all. In 14 days, we can do our first blood pregnancy test to see if it worked. 

It sounds crazy to say that I felt like a different person walking out of that clinic, compared to the person who bought the pizza 30 minutes before. But it’s true. 

Whether it works this time, or not, I can feel an energy shift as I fully enter into this new chapter. 

Motherhood, here I come. 



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