What you can expect to pay for sperm and intrauterine insemination
Those of you who are heterosexual or bisexual may have, throughout your dating efforts, put considerable time and attention toward finding the guy who would be the one—your beloved “baby daddy.” This elusive man would have such noble characteristics as a strong and loving relationship with his mother; be adept at practicing random acts of kindness, such as paying it forward at the tollbooth; he would have a decent job he enjoys in a field contributing in some way to the greater good; and he’d be an all-around great guy in the sack. And for those who partner with the same sex, you may have been more so focused on cis males with exceptionally healthy medical backgrounds, like-minded politics, and a willingness to be or not be in the picture per your explicit predetermination.
Well let’s just say this great guy didn’t surface after all, or maybe he did but just didn’t stick around long enough to fulfill your ultimate desire to grow your family. So you’re thinking that the time has come to hop off the fence and take that giant leap toward creating the life you long for. You know you’ve got what it takes! Like thousands in the United States making the same choice of solo parenthood, you know you can do an extraordinary job of it, yet there’s just one thing you can’t do without: sperm.
Though there is a remote possibility of parthenogenesis, an easier route to getting your little bun in said oven is to obtain healthy and fresh baby batter. Choosing your seed specimen, whether frozen or fresh, can sometimes be a very daunting process, as there’s such a mix of possibilities to pore over. Yet for those of you who pick a donor who happens to live nearby and will offer a limitless supply on demand, count your lucky stars for being able to save yourself a big bundle! Oh joy! And for those who are saving your dough for a timely withdrawal at your seed bank of choice, do prepare in advance by familiarizing yourself with the potential size of your financial investment.
Spending on sperm by solo-parents-to-be is, indeed, on the rise. According to Alice Ruby, executive director of The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC) in Berkeley, about 30% to 40% of its recipients identify as solo. Usually taking four to eight cycles to conceive, though this can certainly vary depending on age and individual health, out-of-pocket payments can add up to quite a pretty penny.
Sadly, so much sperm literally goes down the drain daily—and nightly. If only, for those seeking high-quality samples, it was merely a dime a dozen. At TSBC, vials now range from $720 for one washed, intrauterine insemination (IUI)–ready specimen to $640 for an unwashed intracervical vial compared to $445 and $395, respectively, a decade ago. These costs have increased because of changes in FDA regulations requiring additional screening tests and procedures. Nonetheless, TSBC can proudly boast that its per-vial cost is lower than that of many of the for-profit banks.
Choosing to self-fertilize at home can be a cost-savings approach; however, success rates are about double if an IUI is done. Each try costs more for the additional service and IUI specimen but likely a shorter time to pregnancy. At-home IUIs range in cost depending on time of appointment, location, and provider. For example, Wombservice Midwifery of the San Francisco Bay Area offers at-home IUIs starting at $250, with a reduced fee for additional IUIs per cycle. So with these numbers, plus an initial consultation fee, you could expect to shell out roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per cycle for a nonmedicalized conception.
Might lining up to play the Lotto be in your future? Bake sale for baby? Praying to a pantheon? Or getting real with GoFundMe? Perhaps you are fortunate to have a health savings or a flexible spending account you can draw from? Occasionally Solo Moms by choice post on various lists offering deep discounts on extra vials they purchased and no longer need, as selling product back to the bank from which it was bought is generally not an option. Additionally, it may help to start saving for your seed when you begin noticing that you’re getting emotionally closer to conception, ideally many moons before trying to conceive. Check out “Why Budgeting Is Good for You” by ESME’s Mika Yamamoto, and find out how Mint.com, an online financial fitness tool, can help you with your sperm-saving solutions.
But alas . . . perhaps you’ve come to believe that you’ll never be much of a saver. Or possibly your income level is not where you hoped it would be right now, and holding on to any of it would seem a hardship. Saving for seed can really seem daunting, especially when you consider the actual ease of its origins. It’s not like the donor is having bone marrow sucked out of him or is handing over a kidney out of kindness. Sperm is so frequently regarded merely as a bothersome body waste. And ultimately, you really need only one good one to do the job. If it’s getting to be time to bite the bullet and set up that savings account for the little one, here are additional tips:
To make the practice of tucking a couple twenties or hundies away per week a bit easier, visualize the penultimate outcome—the blessing of your beautiful baby sweetly snuggled in your adoring arms. And if that’s not enough to inspire regularly dropping your coins into the kitty of multiple sources, I recommend invoking subconscious supports to beneficially buoy your banking behavior. Resetting your beliefs and attitudes now regarding your ability to acquire desired financial resources will be a great service for you and your future family.
Surprisingly, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. My three favorite modalities for remolding habits of thought include depth hypnosis, PSYCH-K, and expressive arts therapy. On these sites you will find details about these practices as well as information for connecting with experienced facilitators who can give you a taste of these uniquely transformative techniques.
And if, after all your varied efforts setting some money aside for seed, you don’t end up needing your savings because you met a helpful fella along the way, then you’ll have a nice chunk of change on hand for splurging on your babymoon (in the Bahamas!) or for your requisite birth and postpartum support services to come.
Dr. Meghan Lewis, ESME's Resource Guide for A.R.T., is the founder of the LGBTQ Perinatal Wellness Associates and Integrative Perinatal & Somatic Therapies, has offered preconception, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting consultation and support for all family compositions, particularly intentional solo parents, for more than 18 years.
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