No two families are alike, and every path to parenthood is a unique experience. But for same-sex couples and other members of the LGBTQ+ community, the path can not only look different but, at times, feel daunting. But thanks to assisted reproduction, the gap between cisgender and LGBTQ+ parenthood is narrowing significantly.
Assisted Reproduction and the Path to Parenthood
According to the online organization Family Equality, 63 percent of LGBTQ+ millennials either want to start or plan to grow their family, with the majority opting to start with the assisted reproductive services outlined below:
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): With IUI, sperm is transferred directly into the uterus via a thin catheter. Because it’s less invasive than the IVF process, IUI is typically looked at as the first option.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): With the help of hormonal medication, eggs are harvested and fertilized in a laboratory setting. Once the embryos are ready, one (or more) is implanted in the uterus.
Same-Sex Female Couples
Same sex femal couples require donated sperm, either from someone they know or a sperm bank, to conceive. Couples may choose to have one partner supply the egg and the other carry the pregnancy. A couple may also choose to have a male relative’s sperm from the partner carrying the pregnancy so that there is a biological connection to both mothers.
When healthy donor sperm and healthy eggs are used, most doctors recommend IUI. For women over 35 or those who have symptoms of infertility, IVF is the best option.
Same-Sex Male Couples
Men first need to be assured their sperm is healthy and viable. Once that’s established, both men can choose to either combine their sperm or use one partner’s healthier sperm. The next steps involve finding both an egg donor and surrogate:
Egg Donor: Some couples prefer an anonymous donor and others may opt for a close friend or family member. In order to maintain a biological connection, some couples will use the sperm of one partner and eggs of the other partner’s relative.
Gestational Surrogate/Carrier: While some couples might choose a friend or family member as their surrogate, same-sex male couples typically utilize an agency that specializes in gestational surrogates or carriers.
Men and women who are transitioning from the sex they were assigned at birth may be in various stages of transition or may be at the beginning of the process and want to utilize or preserve their fertility.
Those who opt to preserve their fertility by freezing their eggs or sperm can use either to create an embryo along with donated sperm or eggs. The various options are outlined below:
IVF: Embryos are created in the lab with donor sperm and/or donor eggs. Once the embryo(s) develop, one or more are transferred to the uterus of a biologically female partner or a gestational carrier.
Frozen Preserved Eggs: A female transitioning to male may freeze their eggs and choose to have them fertilized by donated sperm at a later date.
Frozen Preserved Sperm: A male transitioning to female may opt to freeze their sperm and to later fertilize a donated egg.
Pregnancy: Anyone transitioning may choose to use the services of a gestational carrier, or a partner with a uterus, or if the female transitioning to male has retained their uterus, they may also choose to carry the pregnancy.
Know Your Rights
Before you move forward with your family planning, be sure to consult an attorney who is well-versed in LGBTQ+ rights and understands all the laws and regulations in your state. These legal factors differ from state to state. Whether you use the services of a gestational surrogate, donor embryos, or even donor eggs or sperm, you must be educated before you begin the process.
Every Family Deserves a Chance
For those in the LGBTQ+ community, family planning can be a challenge. Knowing where to turn helps. At Rise Fertility, we offer options for you and your partner to grow your family and share your love. Contact us today!
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