Intracervical insemination (ICI) is the injection of semen into the cervix with a needleless syringe. ICI is the easiest and most common insemination technique. Fresh, untreated or raw semen must be allowed to liquefy (read our article on liquefaction time) before it is sucked into the syringe. Alternatively, the syringe may be back-loaded, which will require additional specialist instruments.
Once the syringe has been filled with semen before inserting the syringe into the vagina, enclosed air must be removed by pressing the plunger forward. Special care must be taken when inserting the syringe, because the tip should be as close to the entrance to the cervix as possible.
A vaginal speculum may be used to hold open the vagina so that the cervix may be observed and the syringe inserted more accurately through the open speculum. The plunger is then pushed forward and the semen in the syringe is emptied deep into the vagina. The syringe (and speculum if used) may be left in place for several minutes and the woman is advised to lie still for about half-an-hour to improve the success rate1
Unlike IUI, where the semen is injected directly into the uterine cavity, during ICI the semen is not injected as deeply. When performed at home by private individuals without the presence of a professional this procedure is also sometimes referred to as intravaginal insemination (IVI)2
When is it used?
The ICI process is the simplest artificial insemination technique and closely replicates natural insemination by orgasm during intercourse. This is because fresh semen is deposited onto the neck of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus.
The technique is commonly used at home to self-inseminate. It is also a popular with lesbian couples or single women, where semen is provided by private donors.
As with all methods to get pregnant, the probabilities of success will greatly depend on the “fertility profile” of the couple or woman. Private individuals may also make simple mistakes due to a lack of knowledge and practise. A trained professional will improve chances, which must be seen in relative terms.
A trained fertility professional may recommend the use of a conception cap, to stop the semen from leaving back out of the vagina. This plug-like device may be inserted into the vagina after the semen has been deposited. By leaving it in place near to the entrance to the cervix for several hours, a woman may go about her usual activities while the cervical cap holds the semen in the vagina.
An advantage with the conception device overt the syringe is that fresh, non-liquified semen may be used. It can therefore be inserted immediately after intercourse.
Two other methods may be used to insert semen into the vagina notably involving different uses of a conception cap.
- The conception cap may be inserted pre-filled with sperm which again does not have to be liquefied. The male may therefore ejaculate straight into the cap before insertion.
- Alternatively, a specially designed conception cap with a tube attached may be inserted empty into the vagina. Then liquefied semen is poured into the tube to ensure both that the donor or partner semen is inseminated as close as possible to the cervix and that it is kept in place there to increase the chances of conception.