The short answer is yes! You can get pregnant without having sex.
After all, pregnancy only requires the egg and the sperm to meet. And you don’t need to have sex to facilitate that.
There are many situations where couples want to get pregnant but can’t or choose not to have sex.
At first, this may seem difficult. Luckily there are effective methods that make pregnancy possible.
Whatever your reason is for exploring pregnancy without sex, know that you are not alone. In the last 35 years, over 1 million babies have been born through reproductive technologies not involving sex.
In this article, we’ll explore how pregnancy without sex is possible.
Let's Talk About Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation
It all starts here.
Knowing what’s happening during your cycle is important. Knowing when things are happening is essential.
The menstrual cycle happens each month as the body prepares for pregnancy. This continues whether you’re trying to conceive or not.
Normal cycles last between 21 and 45 days. While the process is the same, everyone’s cycle is unique.
The pituitary gland and ovaries create and release hormones. Your body needs these hormones to complete the menstrual cycle each month. The luteinizing hormone (LH) signals your ovaries to release an egg. This process is ovulation.
The egg then moves down the fallopian tube where it gets cozy awaiting fertilization from sperm. If it’s fertilized by a sperm, pregnancy may occur.
Pinning down when you’re ovulating matters.
Why is it so important?
After ovulation, the egg survives for 12-24 hours.
Seeing the number written out might make you panic. Deep breath, knowledge is power. While this can be tricky, there are things you can do!
An ovulation test is the first step. This test measures the LH level found in your urine. A positive test shows a spike in your LH and predicts that ovulation will begin soon.
Congrats, you’re ready for conception!
Not sure how often you should be having sex during your fertile window? Read more about it here.
You must know that you may not ovulate at the same time each month. Predicting the exact timing of your egg being released can be tricky with an ovulation test alone.
Try using a fertility monitor like Inito to track and confirm your ovulation. Inito helps you track all your fertility hormones including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), and progesterone metabolite PdG.
Conception and Fertilization
Have you ever pondered the difference between conception and fertilization? Many don’t realize there’s a difference between the two. Conception and fertilization happen at different times during the same process.
Conception is up first in the journey to pregnancy. The most common way for this to happen is by the sperm swimming up the vagina. Conception occurs when sperm joins a healthy egg that’s cozied up in the fallopian tube.
Of the millions of sperm that enter the vagina, it takes only one to penetrate the egg. Together they travel for several days through the fallopian tube toward the uterus.
Fertilization is up next. The joined egg and sperm implant into the uterus. Think of it like a seed planting itself in soil. Most people don’t experience a noticeable feeling when fertilization occurs. Light spotting (implantation bleeding) may occur.
When a fertilized egg implants, the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is produced in the uterus. This is the hormone measured in pregnancy tests.
When hCG levels are high enough it produces a positive pregnancy test. Cue happy dance! Say goodbye to your period thanks to hCG which keeps the uterine lining from shedding.
Is It Possible To Get Pregnant Without Having Sex?
Yes, you can get pregnant without penetration. Not sure about this one? Read on to find out how.
We’ve talked about how egg and sperm most commonly meet, now let’s dive into other ways they come together.
It’s possible for sperm to reach an awaiting egg without sexual penetration. This is true anytime sperm is present in the vaginal area. Virgin pregnancies can occur however they’re highly unlikely.
One way for this to happen is if ejaculation occurs near the vagina. Sperm would then need to enter the vagina traveling to the awaiting egg. This may occur if the penis is close to the vagina or if there is semen on fingers that enter the vagina.
While possible it’s extremely uncommon. Sperm doesn’t last for long outside the body. It’s a common misconception that it dies the second it comes into contact with air. Sperm dies once the seme is dried out, usually within minutes.
The more common way of conception without sex happens with the help of fertility doctors. Let’s explore these options.
How To Get Pregnant Without Sex?
There are many reasons why someone can’t or doesn’t want to conceive through sexual intercourse. The great news is there are options that can produce healthy pregnancies.
First up we have intrauterine insemination (IUI). IUI is a type of artificial insemination. An IUI is done during the fertile window of the menstrual cycle.
First, your fertility specialist will discuss your medical history and family planning goals. You’ll then have diagnostic tests done to ensure health.
If everything looks good you’ll need to pinpoint your ovulation. You can do this in conjunction with your doctor and by using the Inito fertility monitor.
When a timeline is set your IUI will be scheduled. Sperm, either provided by your partner or a donor, is washed and concentrated.
During the IUI, the sperm is inserted into the uterus through a thin flexible catheter. This tube gives the sperm a head start bypassing the vagina and cervix. If all goes well, it swims into the fallopian tube fertilizing the awaiting egg. This process takes only a few minutes and is generally painless.
At-home insemination has grown in popularity over the last few years. Some trained midwives will perform IUIs at home.
Intracervical insemination (ICI) can also be done in the comfort of your own home. This method inserts a sperm sample into the vagina placing it at the cervix. As always, nailing down ovulation timing is crucial to ICI success. Having a sperm sample and a menstrual cup or needleless syringe will have you on your way to completing an ICI.
In Vitro Fertilization
The next option is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is the more involved and invasive fertility treatment of the two we’ll discuss. Several procedures in the IVF process improve fertility or distinguish genetic abnormalities in embryos.
During IVF mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries. Eggs can be retrieved long before fertilization if they are frozen. A woman may choose to harvest and freeze her eggs so she can try to get pregnant at a later time. Whether they’re freshly retrieved or frozen, the eggs are sent to a lab and fertilized with sperm. This creates embryos.
They then take time to mature and can be tested for genetic abnormalities. A healthy embryo is then transferred to the carrier. On average a full cycle of IVF takes three weeks but can take longer if the steps are broken up.
Who Might Benefit From An IUI?
When would someone seek out having an IUI? It’s not just for those experiencing infertility.
With IUI, lesbian couples can conceive without a man present. While sperm and an egg must always be involved, one or both can be provided by a donor.
Members of the LGBTQ community who are planning a family may choose IUI. This less invasive fertility treatment than IVF makes it a natural starting point. The fertility health of the person carrying the pregnancy is up first. Choosing a sperm donor continues the IUI process. This hopefully leads to a healthy pregnancy.
Typically being in the same location as your partner is necessary to get pregnant. With IUI, it doesn’t have to be. Whether you are separated from your partner because of work travel or a military assignment you can still get pregnant.
An IUI can help overcome the distance issue. While this might feel like a less-than-ideal circumstance, IUI offers partners more control over their family planning.
There are plenty of reasons to explore IUI when you’re not experiencing infertility. But, if infertility is a part of your journey it’s a strong option. IUI can be particularly helpful if the male partner has a low sperm count, low sperm motility, or low libido.
Fertility concerns related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or age may be factors in wanting to get started ASAP. When timing matters IUI is an option.
Infertility in Men and Women
When we read or even speak about infertility, attention is almost always put on women’s health.
It’s time for that to change.
A nearly equal percentage of fertility issues are related to men and women.
Working with a doctor will help identify the cause of infertility. The following are some possibilities:
Fallopian Tube Issues
Fallopian tube obstruction is caused by scarred or blocked fallopian tubes. Pelvic infection history, sexually transmitted disease, or endometriosis may be the cause.
An irregularly shaped uterus may make it difficult for an egg to attach to the uterine wall. This occurs naturally, from fibroids (noncancerous growths on the uterine wall), or scar tissue.
Irregular ovulation may also be a factor in infertility. As we’ve discussed it’s crucial to know when you’re ovulating when trying to conceive. PCOS, hormone imbalance, excessive exercise, low body weight, and stress can cause irregular cycles.
Male infertility stems from a low sperm count or sperm mobility issues. These may occur due to genetic defects.
Medical conditions like diabetes or infections such as HIV or chlamydia are other causes. Environmental factors that affect sperm health may also be at play. This includes but is not limited to excessive use of alcohol, smoking, and anabolic steroids.
One in eight couples experiences difficulty conceiving. Infertility is a journey rooted in physical complications. Yet, it’s common for heavy emotions to develop. Men and women experience higher levels of depression and anxiety during fertility treatment with up to 40% of women experiencing depression or anxiety.
Please know that you’re not alone. Your doctor can provide support options to help navigate this experience.
You know that it’s possible to get pregnant without sex.
It’s also possible to have a baby without getting pregnant.
With the goal of a healthy pregnancy, it matters who carries the baby. You may be able to or want to carry your pregnancy to term. If you cannot carry or choose not to, it’s time to consider surrogacy.
A traditional surrogate is inseminated with sperm. She uses her own egg, making her the baby’s biological mother.
A gestational surrogate undergoes IVF implanting an embryo. The egg used is not hers. She carries the pregnancy to term but is not biologically related to the baby.
Who uses a surrogate?
Women who have tried fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF but haven’t had a baby.
Women who have had a hysterectomy.
Women who have health conditions that make pregnancy difficult or dangerous.
As with everything on the journey to pregnancy, there isn’t a one size fits all way to making a baby. Knowing and understanding your options is key. But know that you can have your little one irrespective of the issue. All you need is for your egg and your partner’s sperm to meet.
Summing It Up
- You can get pregnant without having sex.
- Understanding your menstrual cycle and when you ovulate is crucial to family planning.
- Sex isn’t the only way for egg and sperm to meet.
- Although unlikely, pregnancy can occur when sperm is in the presence of the vagina without penetration.
- IUI and IVF are common fertility treatments that don’t involve sex.
- IUI can be beneficial for partners who are separated by distance.
- Infertility can be caused by women’s and men’s health issues.
- Surrogacy is an option for those who can’t carry a pregnancy.
- Contact your doctor when you’re ready to begin family planning.