When it comes to love, age is just a number to Jessica Swift, 28, and Steve, 51. But the large age gap did post a challenge for the U.K. couple on their conception journey.
Thankfully, they managed to overcome their fertility obstacle with twoplus Fertility’s Sperm Guide and Applicator (a sperm syringe).
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not intended as medical advice.
Jess Shares Her Journey to Motherhood With twoplus
Interview responses were edited for clarity.
Q: Hi, Jess and Steve! How did you find out about twoplus Fertility?
A: I am an active user of Instagram and came across their Sperm Guide whilst trying for a baby. I wanted to give anything a go before looking at potential IVF. The product had amazing reviews and that convinced my husband and I to try it.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and Steve! How long have you tried to conceive (TTC) before using twoplus?
A: We met through a dating app back in 2019. Since then, we’ve been trying naturally for a child. Throughout 18 months, we’ve spent thousands of pounds on doctor’s consultations, fertility tests, and fertility medications. All our efforts and money spent were to make our baby dream come true.
We finally got pregnant with our first child in May 2022 after I inseminated myself with donated sperm using the twoplus Applicator. This was a short while after we got married at Gretna Green in Scotland!
Q: What were some of your fertility struggles before the pregnancy?
A: After trying for over two years, we found out that Steve has low sperm motility via a semen sample analysis. This is a routine test requested by our GP (general practitioner) before we could be referred to a fertility clinic.
Frustratingly enough, we had previously approached the GP after trying for a year. But the GP only checked my blood samples at that time and didn’t ask Steve to undergo any fertility testing. Had they requested for Steve to be tested too, we won’t have to wait for another year before getting the help we needed.
Q: That’s so much time wasted! Did you try going for NHS treatment?
A: Unfortunately, Steve and I are not eligible for NHS treatment because he has two children from a previous relationship, one biological and one adopted. So, even though I never had any children of my own, NHS treatment still wouldn’t be an option for us.
Plus, my weight was an issue. They told me I would need to lose weight before I can do any further tests.
Credit: @jess_youaregold | Instagram
Q: That’s a bummer…what else have you and Steve tried afterward?
A: We went abroad for private treatment and made an appointment at a clinic in Greece. Some tests, including sperm DNA fragmentation, were done to look at Steve’s sperm in more detail. We were told that Steve’s sperm had extremely poor motility and morphology and wouldn't work for IVF.
It was also a relief to know that my weight actually had nothing to do with our fertility issues. It is an all too common assumption for bigger women that is unfair.
But we were upset. They recommended Steve should see a urologist to look for causes, but this would take more time and cost more money with no guarantee that it would fix the problem.
Q: Did you adopt any lifestyle changes to improve your odds of conceiving?
A: We started to eat less [and] move more, which is something we had already planned on doing to lose weight. We already stopped drinking alcohol and had never smoked.
Steve was advised to wear loose boxers, not have a laptop on his lap, no hot baths, etc., to optimize [his] sperm quality.
Q: Was this when you decided to try using a sperm donor?
A: Yes. At this point, I suggested a sperm donor. Steve has two children — a biological son who is 21, and a nine-year-old daughter who is adopted, so we already knew DNA did not change the love we had for her.
Therefore, we decided to consider using the “turkey baster” method.
Q: How did you learn about the Turkey Baster Baby method?
A: Funnily enough, I had heard it on a TV show many years ago where it was a storyline that someone had used it to conceive without their husband knowing.
You don't realize that you will be doing it in years to come — but of course with your husband being on board!
Q: Can you share more about your experience with using donated sperm to conceive?
A: I joined lots of online forums and used my Instagram page @jess_youaregold to talk about our infertility journey.
We were told about the app “Just a Baby” by a lesbian couple on Instagram. It is a way to connect all the pieces needed for infertile couples, same-sex couples, or intended single parents to make a baby. Some couples need a surrogate or a donor and they can advertise on Just a Baby*.
I shared our story and said we may be considering using a sperm donor and doing it at home.
*A note from twoplus: At the time of publishing, the “Just a Baby” app is only available in the U.K., U.S., and Australia.
Q: Which online forums did you join when researching donor sperm?
A: We used generic search engines to hear people's experiences which brought up forums/Facebook groups of "red-listed" names of men to avoid if you were thinking of doing it yourself without support from medical professionals.
Q: What made you eventually decide to use a sperm donor?
A: The more we thought about it, [the more] we were keen to do it this way, out of a clinical setting, it was free, and on our terms.
We eventually found a potential donor and drove to his house on May 31st, 2022 to collect the fresh semen sample.
Credit: @jess_youaregold | Instagram
Q: What did you use to inseminate yourself with the donated sperm?
A: I bought two at-home fertility tools for self-insemination. One was the twoplus Applicator (£28) and the other was the Sperm Guide (£68).
I also used ovulation strips to confirm when I was ovulating, then met the donor to collect the sample.
Q: From what we read in The Sun article, you went to your friend’s house for self-insemination as it was in the near vicinity of your donor. How was your experience self-inseminating in the comfort of your friend’s home?
A: Our friend is a really good friend of ours (and now baby's Godmother) — so we already felt comfortable! She had given us a private space — put some music on and left us to it!
When we were done, she made us some drinks and chatted to us about our experience, and we all had a laugh about her cat that had appeared mid-insemination when it jumped onto the bed which I laid on!
Q: Were the Applicator and Sperm Guide easy to use?
A: It was quick, easy to use, and so comfortable. I didn’t even feel the Applicator going in.
The Sperm Guide stopped any sperm leaking out after removing the Applicator – the flap on the device drops down when you remove the Applicator so as much sperm as possible stays where it needs to be.
I then waited an hour before removing the device. A few weeks later I found out I was pregnant. After 2 years, lots of tests, and anguish, we are now so excited to meet our baby who was just born February 20th, 2023!
Q: What made you decide to use both the Applicator and the Sperm Guide together?
A: It made sense to use the two from the same company as they both had fantastic reviews. And it had said online that the Applicator could glide over the Sperm Guide*, mimicking what would happen during sex (when the penis would go over the sperm guide which is placed in the vagina).
*A note from twoplus: The Applicator Extra is specially designed with a Soft Tip so you no longer have to use the Applicator Only with the Sperm Guide.
Q: Would you recommend the twoplus Applicator and Sperm Guide to other people who may have difficulties with natural conception?
A: The Applicator we used also means you don't have to consider being intimate with someone to conceive — there are other ways.
We would definitely recommend it, and if we were to have more children (though baby boy is enough currently haha), we would do it exactly the same way.
We can't say for certain how much it contributed to us falling pregnant [the] first time with donor sperm, but I'd like to think it's what helped us get pregnant on our first try!
Credit: @jess_youaregold | Instagram
Q: If you could go back to the beginning of your TTC journey, is there anything you would have done differently? Also, do you have any suggestions or words of encouragement for other couples who are TTC?
A: We would have spent more time looking at Steve's fertility (the male factor) as we were told by professionals that the reason we couldn't conceive was due to my weight. When in fact Steve was deemed infertile when we had further tests (e.g., sperm DNA fragmentation test).
We had to pay for [the test] privately as this isn't routinely offered in the UK via our healthcare system. We were lucky to have been given suggestions from a consultant in Greece who we were looking at having IVF with before exploring the sperm donor route.
My advice (Jess): High BMI does not equal infertility despite how you may be made to feel.
Steve's advice: As it was a stressful situation, no matter how long the journey, make sure your life doesn't just revolve around trying for a baby. Make sure you plan time away, nice meals, and date nights to ensure you continue your connection with your partner.
twoplus Is an Affordable Alternative to Costly IVF
If IVF is too expensive, Jess highly recommends you to try twoplus’ range of at-home fertility aids.
Simple and easy to use, the twoplus Applicator acts as a sperm syringe that works well with donated or ejaculated sperm. Its rounded barrel ensures that over 90% of semen leaves the syringe, minimizing sperm wastage.
If you choose the Applicator Extra, it comes with a Soft Tip to reduce immediate leakage out of the vagina. Plus, the Soft Tip enhances comfort during insertion, making the Applicator Extra the ideal alternative to painful penetration.