Intracervical insemination (ICI)
Intracervical insemination (ICI) is a fertility treatment which can be performed at home. It involves placing sperm near the cervix in order to conceive. This can be performed using a syringe or a cervical cap. A cervical cap will keep semen against the cervix for an extended amount of time.
When is ICI suitable?
There are a number of reasons that ICI could be a suitable treatment option. This includes if:
- You are in a relationship where you can’t have sexual intercourse
- You find penetrative intercourse difficult or painful
- You are using a sperm donor
- There is no known cause of fertility issues
- You experience difficulties with erection or ejaculation
- A mild infertility diagnosis has been made (mild male factor infertility, mild endometriosis, mild adenomyosis or mild fibroids)
How does ICI work?
ICI can be performed at home around the time of ovulation. Ovulation tests are used to track ovulation and ICI should be performed when you have a positive result. The treatment is performed with the help of a syringe or a small silicone cup, called a cervical cap. A syringe deposits or injects semen into the vagina, so the sperm are near the cervix, essentially mimicking intercourse. The cervical cap is inserted through the vagina and holds semen against the cervix for an extended period of time. By increasing the number of sperm near the cervix, there’s an increased potential for them to swim up the fallopian tubes to fertilise an egg. Some women may experience discomfort when the cervical cap is in place, but it is considered a painless and non-invasive treatment.
What are my chances of getting pregnant with ICI?
Most people want to know how long it will take them to become pregnant. Although we know how long it takes on average for a person or couple, it is impossible to tell how long it will take you to become pregnant, because everyone is unique. In general, when trying to conceive, multiple attempts can be the key to success. The same goes for ICI – the longer you try, the higher the chance of success. The average success rates per cycle with ICI using a cervical cap can look like this:
How can I access ICI?
In 2023, we launched the first clinical-grade, at-home ICI kit in the UK. In each kit, you’ll get two semen collection pots and two insemination devices, which will help you easily place a cervical cap to perform ICI at home. The Béa Applicator places our custom cervical cap against the cervix, holding the semen in place for up to 1 hour. This will minimise the contact of semen in the vagina (where the pH can reduce sperm quality), reduce semen backflow and increase the exposure time to the cervical mucus. By using a cervical cap, the concentration of sperm in the cervical mucus can be 3.23 times higher compared with sexual intercourse. Pregnancy rates with a cervical cap can be nearly 3 times higher compared to straw or syringe insemination.