It’s easier than ever before for LGBT couples to have children using advanced reproductive technology (ART). Gay and lesbian couples have numerous options to consider when deciding how to go about having children using IUI, IVF, or surrogacy.
Do your research before choosing a doctor to have a consultation with if you have further questions. If you’re in Los Angeles, you want to see the best fertility doctor in Los Angeles. This is a decision that will affect the rest of your life, so make sure you’re careful about who you choose to help you on this journey. Every family has specific needs that they can discuss with their physician when starting a family, but let’s go over four of the most common options for LGBT families.
1. IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)
IUI using donor sperm is considered the simplest method for achieving pregnancy with advanced reproductive technology. IUI and artificial insemination differ in that artificial insemination is a broad term encompassing any time sperm is placed in a person’s reproductive tract, whereas IUI is a specific procedure where the sperm has been treated so the healthiest sperm are concentrated in the sample. The sperm is then placed directly in the uterus via a catheter which passes through the cervix. The procedure can be timed for a woman’s cycle or fertility drugs can be used.
2. IVF with Sperm Donor
IVF can be a popular option with cisgender lesbian couples because both partners can be involved in the creation of the baby. Also known as reciprocal IVF, one partner can be the egg donor while the other can carry the pregnancy. Your specific preferences and needs will inform how this process can work for you. You can use eggs from one or both partners, have the fertilized embryo implanted into one or both partners, or implant the fertilized embryo with eggs from either partner and a sperm donor into a surrogate.
3. Surrogacy with IUI/Artificial Insemination
For cisgender gay male couples, options are slightly different. While IUI and IVF are simpler for cisgender lesbian couples, as one person has a uterus, gay male couples will need to seek a surrogate if they wish for biological children. In this scenario, which is the most common, the surrogate will have her eggs fertilized through IUI or artificial insemination with sperm from one or both partners.
4. IVF/Egg Donation/Gestational Surrogate
Gay couples can make use of IVF in several ways other than the traditional use of a sperm donor and surrogate. You can also use donor eggs from someone of your choice combined with sperm from one or both partners and use a gestational surrogate, where the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the child. You can use donor eggs and donor sperm, donor eggs and your sperm, or your surrogate’s eggs and your sperm, depending on what you and your partner are comfortable with.
Having a child isn’t an easy decision, especially with the cost of using advanced reproductive technology. Beyond the physical burden, emotional adjustment can also be significant. You may want to look specifically into gay couple therapy, with a therapist who has experience working with the LGBT community. Depending on whether you want to choose a donor for the egg or sperm to be used to fertilize the embryo, use yours in combination with a surrogate, or use a gestational surrogate with all genetic material being donated, you have a variety of options when you start your journey towards parenthood.