LGBTQ Fertiltiy and Family Planning

Whether you’re ready to start a family of your own, or want to plan ahead so you can be well prepared down the line, Fertility Finders is here to help all members of the lgbtq community find the right fertility options for their needs.
From lesbian and gay couples, to transgender or transitioning individuals, and anyone else exploring their LGBTQ Fertility options, we are here to connect you with all the resources, information, fertility doctors, and medical care you need to plan your families future.

Lesbian Couples

IUI

Lesbian couples often choose to use IUI (Intrauterine Insemenation) for one or both partners to become pregnant. This can be done using a sperm donor.
There are two options lesbian couples can decide between when choosing their sperm donor. They can use either a known sperm donor, which is someone they have a personal relationship with (either a friend or unrelated family member), or they can choose to use an anonymous sperm donor. An anonymous donor will be chosen through a sperm bank.
In both cases the donor must complete testing for physical health, sperm quality and health, and STD screening. They must also complete psychological screenings and evaluations, and the donor must legally surrender all parental rights to any possible children born using their donation.
If using a known donor, the parents and donor must arrange all of these preliminary tests, screenings, and contracts by themselves or with their doctor or fertility clinic. However, if using an anonymous donor, the sperm bank will cover all preliminary steps, allowing the couple immediate access to a sperm donation.
To learn more about sperm donation and the differences between known and anonymous sperm donors, click here.

Reciprocal IVF

Some Lesbian couples may choose to use reciprocal IVF to build their family. This can be an appealing option that allows both partners to participate in a pregnancy in a physical/biological way.

A reciprocal IVF procedure takes eggs from one partner, and then like any other IVF procedure fertilizes them in the lab using donor sperm of the couples choice.

However, unlike regular IVF, the embryos that result from the fertilized egg do not get implanted back into the person who the eggs were initially collected from. Instead, the embryo will be implanted into their partner.

Like egg donation, where a donor egg is used to achieve pregnancy, the person who will be carrying the baby to term does not technically share their DNA, but they get to grow and nurture their baby in their uterus and give them everything they need to start their life strong and healthy.

Many lesbian couples feel that reciprocal IVF connects them both to their baby on a physical level, with one having provided the egg for the babies life to spark, and the other having carried to term and given birth to their bundle of joy.

Reciprocal IVF utilizes the same processes that egg donation does for the initial collection of the eggs. To learn more about egg donation, click here.

The final step of Reciprocal IVF is the same as a regular IVF cycle, to learn more about IVF, click here.

Gay Couples

Gay couples need an egg donor and a gestational carrier in order to have a biological child. They still have different paths they can choose from when deciding how they bring their child into this world, but these two steps are essential when it comes to building their own biological family.

Sperm Testing

Before a gay couple can proceed with choosing their egg donor and gestational carrier, a semen analysis must be performed to check for sperm health and quality. Performing this test ensures that sperm is healthy and able to be used to fertilize the donor egg.
Like with sperm donation, this testing process can take up to 6 months. The long wait time is due to STD testing that all sperm samples must undergo, ensuring nothing could potentially be passed to an embryo or surrogate.
This is the same process sperm banks and known sperm donors must pass during their initial screenings. After 6 months, the person who provided the sample gets a second STD screening and once it proves negative their sample is ready to be used.
Usually both partners are tested, and most of the time both partners have healthy enough sperm to allow them to choose whose they would like to use.
If for any reason a gay couple can’t use either of their sperm, they can choose to seek out a sperm donor.

Egg Donors

Once they receive a clean bill of health the couple will begin looking for an egg donor with their fertility doctor. This can either be a known egg donor, or an anonymous egg donor found through an egg bank.
Some couples use a known donor as they feel it allows them to have a personal connection to the person that will provide their future child their DNA. As long as the egg donor is unrelated to the person providing sperm, any friend or family member can be chosen.
Both anonymous and known donors have their benefits and drawbacks.
Egg Donor
Sometimes, known egg donors will also agree to be a surrogate, known as a generational carrier, for a couple. Meaning instead of having to collect eggs from one person and use IVF to implant an embryo into a different person, a couple only needs to use IUI in order to achieve pregnancy.
Using an anonymous egg donor still allows a gay couple to know about age, height, ethnic background, education, hobbies, and eye/hair color, but the egg donor and couple will not have a personal relationship with each other.
This can be financially beneficial, but can pose serious complications regarding parental rights.
All gestational carriers must legally waive their parental rights when carrying a gay couples child, but in many states and countries, even if they sign legal documents surrendering their rights, if they carried the child and share half of their DNA a court may rule in their favor. This is why many doctors are hesitant or even do not recommend this route, and instead encourage using an anonymous egg donor.
This often provides gay couples with more security over their parental rights, as an egg bank will have already taken care of all legal documentation needed to ensure their future child is protected.
To read more about Egg Donation, click here
Egg Freezing Method

Surrogacy

Once a couple has chosen their egg donor, they can decide on which surrogacy path they would like to take.
Like with egg donation, either a known or anonymous gestational carrier can be chosen.
A known gestational carrier must undergo medical tests and psychological evaluation and counseling before proceeding with the process. A gay couple must also personally seek out a lawyer to ensure extensive legal contracts are drawn up to protect their legal parental rights.
Using an anonymous gestational carrier through an agency allows a couple to have the most protection over their parental rights to their child.
Combining an anonymous egg donor and an anonymous gestational carrier, both through agencies that already have verified all legal documentation, tests, and screenings, gives gay parents the maximum amount of legal protection, so if anything were to ever happen, their parental rights would be recognized and protected in a court of law.
Unfortunately using both an anonymous donor and gestational carrier is the most expensive fertility route to take.
However, most fertility clinics have financial support services available to help couples who need financial guidance. Fertility Finders also has services that connect patients with fertility financing services to help find the best solution to their situation so they can find an affordable way of still building their perfect family.
Find out more about our fertility financial services by clicking here.

Transgender Fertility

Transitioning or pre transitioning individuals may choose to freeze their sperm or eggs before they complete their transition. Many may choose this route to preserve the health and quality of their sperm or eggs, as there is sometimes a risk of hormone injections or testosterone affecting fertility health down the line.
For individuals who have transitioned or are beginning to transition, transgender fertility services offer options for them to live true to their identity while also having a biological family of their own.
This can bring up old traumas or emotional pain that some transgender people struggle deeply with. By freezing their sperm or eggs prior or early on in their transition, this may be avoided.
Egg and sperm freezing is also a good option for those who do not wish to stop taking testosterone or hormones in order to begin sperm production or ovulation while they are trying to conceive.
The biggest difference in fertility treatments for transgender individuals comes down to who will be able to get pregnant.
Because these drugs usually cannot be taken while going through fertility treatments, and sometimes even extra fertility medication need to be administered in order for sperm and egg production to start again in a transgender individual, feelings of dysmorphia may be reignited.
For those who did not have the means or opportunity to freeze their sperm or eggs before their transition, they have the option of using their own sperm or eggs by going through the same fertility treatments used for egg and sperm donation. They also may decide to use a sperm or egg donor instead.
If a transgender person is in a relationship with someone who has male reproductive organs, or someone with female reproductive organs that is infertile, the couple must find a way for their baby to be carried to term.
Transgender women in this situation will have to use a gestational carrier as well as an egg donor in order to build their family.
Fertility doctors will usually refer a counselor, therapist, and mental health services specializing in the transgender fertility experience to ensure a patient is able to access the care they need during their fertility journey.
Transgender men (who were born with female reproductive organs) have the option of carrying their child themselves. This can be a cost effective method as no gestational carrier is needed, but can also ignite feelings of dysmorphia that might be difficult to grapple with.
Going through fertility treatment is a difficult process for anyone. But due to the sensitive nature of fertility, dysmorphia, and hormone/testosterone treatment for those who have transitioned, extra support services are often encouraged.
To learn more about fertility mental health support services, click here.

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