Two Mommies or Two Daddies: Family-Building Options for Same Sex Couples

Fertility Options for Gay, Lesbian or Transgender Partners

Families come in many shapes, sizes and varieties. Longing for a biological family is a desire many people feel, whether they are gay or straight. Love for a life partner may make you want to strengthen that bond even more by raising a family together.

If you are a same sex couple you now have options available which didn’t exist until recently to build the family you want. Here are fertility treatments and options for gays and lesbians and transgenders to have a biological baby.

Fertility Options for Lesbian Couples

The best first step when you want to start a family is to get checked out by your OB/GYN or, if you are over age 34, you may want to go straight to a fertility specialist. The basic tests for fertility issues will help you learn if you have any conditions that should be treated before you can get pregnant.
If the female partner who wants to carry a baby doesn’t have any known fertility issues, she may be able to become a parent with vaginal insemination at home or intrauterine insemination (IUI) with or without injectable fertility drugs in a doctor’s office or fertility clinic, using donor sperm. Donor sperm may be obtained from a sperm bank or from a “known donor” such as a friend. Most fertility clinics have or are affiliated with sperm banks which offer a large number of donors to choose from who have been screened for health issues and represent different races and ethnicities.

If you use a known donor instead, he should go through routine screening including semen analysis, blood analysis for infectious diseases, and urinalysis for gonorrhea and chlamydia. This helps protect your health and that of your potential baby. You may want to have counseling for the known donor and also consult an attorney experienced in reproductive law about the legal implications. Many fertility clinics will not use “volunteer sperm” due to legal issues with paternity, custody and the like.

Be aware that vaginal insemination at home often does not work. The sperm has to be at the correct temperature and needs to be placed close to your cervix, which is not always easy for a nonprofessional to do.

IVF is an option when IUI doesn’t work or when fertility problems are present. The woman’s eggs are fertilized with donor sperm in the laboratory and then embryos are implanted in her uterus. It’s the same process as any other in vitro fertilization but uses donor sperm. IVF also allows the use of one partner’s eggs for fertilization, with implantation in the other partner’s uterus, so one is the biological parent and the other is the birth mother. IVF also enables you and your fertility doctor to limit the chance of multiple births by controlling the number of embryos that are implanted.

Not every physician or fertility center will work with same sex couples and there may be potential legal issues in your state. Make sure you find a fertility clinic which is sensitive to the needs of same sex couples. You may want to consult an attorney experienced in reproductive law as well.

Fertility Options for Male Gay Couples

Male couples who want to have a child need an egg donor and a gestational surrogate, a woman who will receive the embryos and carry the child. The eggs can be fertilized with the sperm of one or both partners. Most fertility centers have third-party reproductive facilities including access to donor eggs through their own donors and donor agencies as well as gestational surrogates.

Egg donors are screened for any health issues. Egg donation programs are anonymous, so the clinic can’t tell you much more than donor’s height and weight, hair color and eye color, race, blood type, age and duration of formal education. The clinic will also give you as much family medical history as they know. Donor agencies may have a wider range of races and ethnicities than a clinic’s own donation program.

Again, not all physicians or fertility centers will work with same sex couples and the laws on surrogacy and same sex parent rights vary from state to state. You may want to consult an attorney who is experienced in reproductive law in your state. If you choose a fertility clinic which is experienced in building same sex families it will have resources to guide you through the process.

Finding a Fertility Specialist and Clinic

WINFertility can help you find a fertility doctor in your area who is sensitive to the issues of becoming same sex parents. Our skilled Nurse Care Managers and professionally trained Patient Specialists are eager to get you the resources you need to become parents. Call 855-705-4483(4IVF.)