Advances in assisted reproductive technologies have made it possible for same-sex couples to start a family of their own. Many fertility clinics are now offering fertility treatment for lesbian couples. Dreams Fertility, an LGBTQ+ friendly fertility clinic with a range of customized solutions for all types of couples, is proud to assist these couples to help start their family. Let us understand the different fertility options for lesbian couples.
Fertility Treatment for Lesbian Couples: What are the Options?
When considering building a family, lesbian couples have technically two primary options to choose from – artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
This is a process to place sperm inside the female reproductive organ artificially. The sperm comes from a donor known to the couple or from a sperm bank. This can be done at a fertility specialist’s clinic (IUI) or can be done at home. In both cases, the woman is put on ovulation-inducing medication. Once she is ovulating, a prepared sperm sample can be introduced inside her cervix/uterus. The sperm then fertilize the eggs released and lead to pregnancy. However, the success rates of both procedures differ.
IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. In this process, thawed or fresh sperm is placed inside the uterus of one of the partners who will carry the pregnancy. In this process, a fertility expert places sperm directly inside the uterus of the woman when she is ovulating. The clinician uses a soft catheter and a syringe to place the donor sperm sample directly inside the uterus. The procedure takes just a few minutes and is painless. The success rate of this method is higher since the sperm is placed close to the eggs.
While insemination often happens in a clinical setting, many women prefer to get inseminated in the comfort of their homes. In such cases, a midwife who specializes in this procedure places the prepared sperm sample near the cervix with the help of a syringe. However, in this case, the sperm sample is not placed inside the uterus, which may decrease your chances of fertilization.
It might be tempting to use a turkey baster yourself or your partner to place the sperm sample by believing that the procedure is easy. However, you may hurt yourself while attempting to inseminate. The injury may cause health complications. It is always more beneficial and safer to seek the services of a fertility specialist instead of trying to do this procedure on your own.
In in-vitro fertilization, eggs from a partner are removed and fertilized in a lab with donated sperm. The embryos thus formed are transferred into the uterus of a partner. If successful implantation of the embryo occurs, pregnancy is achieved.
Reciprocal IVF: How Both Partners Can be Active Participants
While IUI allows only one partner to actively participate in the pregnancy, IVF allows both partners to contribute. In what is known as reciprocal IVF, or co-IVF, one partner donates the eggs and the other partner carries the pregnancy.
Many times, both partners wish to be part of the pregnancy process and this option suits them best.
As a couple when you decide which partner will carry the pregnancy, we will start with fertility testing of that partner. This includes some blood tests (usually done on the third day of the menstrual cycle) to determine hormone levels as well as an HSG (hysterosalpingography), an X-ray examination of the uterus, and fallopian tubes to determine their health. Once these tests come back and it is determined they are normal, we can proceed to help find the right sperm donor.
You can either get sperm from someone known to you, or from a sperm bank. At Dreams Fertility, we can refer you to some of the largest frozen sperm banks from our vast network and also guide you on how to choose the best sperm sample.
There are pros and cons to both a known and unknown sperm donor.
Known Sperm Donor
While getting a sperm sample from someone you already know can save money, (since you don’t have to pay for the sperm), there are legal considerations that you need to address beforehand. Just to be safe, you should seek the services of a family or contract lawyer specializing in such matters so that there are no future issues of parental rights from the donor. The donor will have to undergo comprehensive testing to check for infections and any genetic issues that may compromise a healthy life for the child.
Anonymous Sperm Donor
This is what you get from a sperm bank. The donor cannot claim any legal rights over the child born through his sperm. You can choose the sperm sample that suits you best as all the information regarding the anonymous donor – physical traits, education, career choices, medical history, etc. – is available through the sperm bank.
What if Neither of the Partners is Able to Donate Eggs?
There may be a possibility that neither partner is able to donate eggs. This infertility may be due to the advanced age of the partners, hormonal imbalance, past history of substance abuse, thyroid problems, or tumors of the pituitary gland, among other reasons. In such cases, you can choose the option of donor eggs or donor embryos.
Many women freeze their eggs for future use. Women who went through an IVF cycle and had a successful pregnancy could have extra frozen embryos that they are willing to donate to other women to use in a frozen embryo transfer. . If you are looking for such an option, we can help you get in touch with an egg donor agency or an agency that places donated frozen embryos to people who could use them in a frozen transfer cycle.
What if Neither of the Partners is Able to Carry the Pregnancy?
Due to medical conditions that might compromise the uterus (fibroids, polyps, hysterectomy), it is possible that neither of the two partners is able to carry the pregnancy. In such cases, you may opt for the services of a surrogate. A surrogate is a woman who consents to carry the embryo of another couple to term. . Surrogacy is a wonderful option that can help start a family but does involve legal contracts, surrogacy agencies, and a third party (the surrogate) to agree contractually to carry the pregnancy and surrender the baby to its intended parents, once it’s born. For lesbian couples who are ready to navigate this procedure, we are here to help.
Bringing the Dreams of Lesbian Couples to Life
At Dreams Fertility, we believe that all types of couples should have equal opportunities to experience the joys of parenthood. While biology may not allow them to be parents normally, advancements in assisted reproductive technologies have opened doors to creating unique opportunities to help anyone have a baby.
For the Dreams Fertility team, each case is unique, and each couple is special. Our expert and empathetic staff are ready with multiple treatment options to help you start your family-building journey. Schedule a consult with a Dreams fertility physician today, and let us be part of your dream to start your own family by bringing your child into this world.
Dr. Luis Murrain joined Dreams Fertility in 2021, providing specialty services in Fertility and Reproductive Genetics. With a shared vision that everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients. We believe that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are beautiful. We are proud to have a long history of providing services to all, including gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples on their road to parenthood.