As recently as twenty years ago, LGBTQ+ adults had one option if they wanted to become parents – to adopt. Forward-thinking gay or lesbian couples may have enlisted the assistance of opposite-sex friends to help out with sperm donation or gestational carrying – but these options were typically done behind-the-scenes and lacked some of the legal legitimacy provided by traditional parenthood routes. While adoption is certainly a workable option for some, it can be a frustrating solution for those who want to have a closer, intimate and more physically invested role in the conception, pregnancy and childbirth experiences.
Fast forward to the 21st-century and now, the LGBTQ+ community has a range of fertility options tailored uniquely for their specific situation. Here at the Reproductive Resource Center, we’re proud to support our LGBTQ+ clients as they begin to explore family building options available to them. And, the great news is that for most couples, barring an existing infertility diagnosis, the success rates for fertility treatments is quite high since we’re working with high-quality sperm and eggs – two of the most important ingredients required to conceive a healthy baby.
Contact RRC to learn more about our LGBTQ+ services and to learn about the convenient financing options that can help to make your family building dreams come to life.
Family building options for lesbian couples
Lesbian couples have several different options when it comes to conceiving a baby.
- Egg freezing. Not ready for a family quite yet? Lesbian women in their 30s who haven’t yet found their life partner may opt to freeze their own eggs while they’re still young, to be used via IVF when they’re ready to become mothers. This can significantly improve IVF success rates.
- Traditional IUI. Younger women with regular menstrual cycles are perfect candidates for intrauterine insemination – more commonly referred to as artificial insemination. We will sync the timing of insemination with the carrying mother’s menstrual cycle. Couples have the option of using donor sperm or using sperm from someone they know, depending on their preference.
- Traditional IVF. One partner uses her own eggs and donor sperm and carries the baby.
- Reciprocal IVF. With this option, one of you will contribute the egg(s) to another.
- Donor Egg IVF. Depending on the situation, often as the result of advanced maternal age that compromises the quality of the eggs, lesbian couples will opt to use a donor egg from a younger woman, and then move forward with IVF so that one – or both – of them can be the gestational carrier at one point or another as they grow their family.
- Gestational Carrier. If neither partner wants to carry the baby, or physical limitations make that impossible, a gestational carrier is the ideal solution.
We can help with each part of the family building process, from helping you procure an ideal sperm donor match to facilitating the entire IUI or IVF process.
Family building for gay men
Typically, family building for gay men requires the use of an egg donor and gestational carrier who is willing to donate her own egg(s) and carry the baby after conception via IUI.
Sometimes, however, a gay couple may decide to do something different. For example, men who can’t decide whose sperm to use, or who already have an infertility diagnosis, may opt to use donor sperm.
We are happy to assist you with any one of the above options. If you already have a friend or family member willing to help out as a gestational carrier, we can take it from there. Or, if you need assistance finding the right woman to serve as your gestational carrier, we can put you in touch with reputable agencies in your area.
Family building for transgender couples
The transgender community can take advantage of the same types of family building services available to their gay and lesbian couple counterparts, including:
- Sperm, egg or embryo donation
- Directed Egg Donation
- Gestational carrier
- Egg or sperm freezing (transgender men and women can have their eggs or sperm frozen prior to their transition to preserve their fertility later on).
- Egg and/or sperm donation
- Embryo donation
Both transgender men and women may also have the option to halt their hormone therapy in order to reinstate a menstrual cycle – or to retrieve sperm – making them eligible to conceive a baby with or without fertility assistance. This process can be incredibly demanding. It is both physically and emotionally strenuous on the individual, and the hormone fluctuations and ensuing physical and emotional changes can place a strain on the relationship as well.
In the case of transgender men, testosterone therapy can be reversed for the duration of the return to ovulation, conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding (if desired) and then re-started when the individual is ready. In the case of transgender women, who still have their testicles, returning to their natural hormone levels make it possible for sperm to be retrieved, after which the sperm can be used for IUI or IVF treatments. If the testicles were removed as part of the transitioning process, transgender men typically opt to use donor eggs.
In either case, halting your current hormone regimen requires a tremendous amount of thought and reflection before making a commitment. We’re happy to walk you through the process so you can make a completely informed decision.
Schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist who specializes in LGBTQ+ Family Building
RRC looks forward to helping you find the best path forward to building your LGBTQ+ family. Please contact us online to schedule a consultation, or give us a call directly to ask questions or share your concerns. If you’re local, our number is (913) 894-2323. Otherwise, call us toll free at (877) 221-2323.
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.
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When to Seek Genetic Counseling
We recommend all couples pursuing an infertility diagnosis consider preconception genetic screening. This is because genetic and chromosomal abnormalities are some of the most common causes of infertility, resulting in failed conception, implantation, or recurrent miscarriages. And, while preconception genetic testing (different than preimplantation genetic screening) is a wise first-step...