Planning for a family, for any couple, involves a lot of decisions, and this is particularly true on the journey toward parenthood for LGBTQ+ couples. The process can be complex and sometimes daunting, especially on the concept of fertility, so let’s talk through all the options you have available. Everybody should have access to the support needed to make the right decisions on their path to parenthood. Let’s show you what your options are, no matter who you are, at Red Rock Fertility Center.
Assisted reproduction is an approach where LGBTQ+ couples and individuals have a number of options to build their loving family. The four key methods for assisted reproduction are:
1. Timed Sexual Intercourse
This is an opportunity for same-sex couples who are open to conceiving a child outside of their partnership. It’s also a suitable option for transgender couples who have preserved their fertility. While this naturally relies on timing, it can be a very beneficial choice for people who are seeking a less invasive approach.
2. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
IUI involves the placement of sperm inside a woman’s uterus. This is a commonly used method for same-sex female couples who need donor sperm to conceive. IUI provides a greater chance of success because the sperm is closer to the fallopian tubes (the place of fertilization).
3. Home Insemination
For those couples who are looking for a private and intimate experience away from medical settings, home insemination is an excellent option. This involves using an insemination kit where couples can insert sperm inside the vagina close to the cervix. While the process is undoubtedly less clinical, it is critical to follow the proper guidelines to maximize the effectiveness of this approach.
4. In Vitro Insemination (IVF)
IVF is one of the more commonly understood practices. IVF involves the extraction of eggs, where they are fertilized inside a laboratory and the process of transferring one or more healthy embryos to what is known as a gestational carrier. Many LGBTQ+ couples choose this method because of a higher degree of control over the pregnancy process.
How It Works for Different Populations
Depending on whether you are a transgender, gay, or lesbian couple, the approach can differ. Now, we’ll explore the specific elements that are best suited for different populations:
Transgender couples have unique fertility options depending on where they are during their period of transition. Transgender men and transgender women who are either going from male to female or vice versa or at various stages of their transition have a number of different fertility options. The options can include:
- Pregnancy: If an individual chooses to retain the uterus, a transgender man post-transition may choose to carry the baby.
- Sperm Freezing: This is an option where transgender women can freeze and store sperm if they are transitioning from male to female, and this is done prior to the transition process.
- Egg Freezing: Transgender men post-transition can either freeze or store unfertilized eggs before later use. Single transgender men have this option as a preferred option.
- Embryo Creation: There is the option for transgender men to preserve their fertility prior to starting testosterone therapy. For example, a cisgender (someone whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth) partner may carry the pregnancy after the embryos are created using donated sperm.
- Same-Sex Female Couples: Lesbian couples will require donor sperm to conceive either from somebody they know or via a sperm bank. The process can be flexible with one woman donating the egg with the other potentially carrying the pregnancy, but it’s essential to guarantee that both partners are cleared for pregnancy via fertility testing. There are three types of options for same-sex female couples:
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Using donor sperm, a doctor will use a catheter to insert the donor sperm into the uterus of one member of the partnership. If there are no previous fertility issues, this is usually the best course of action.
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): If one or both partners have female fertility issues, this is an excellent option using donor sperm. There are a number of different steps in the treatment. This includes medication, retrieving the egg, fertilizing within the laboratory, and finally transferring the embryo.
- Reciprocal IVF: This is an approach where both partners share in the pregnancy. One partner provides the egg while the other carries the pregnancy and delivers the baby.
Same-Sex Male Couples
The primary concern with gay men is around the health of the sperm. To stimulate pregnancy, both partners can donate sperm. The couple may choose the man with the healthiest sperm for the process, which typically involves two key elements:
- Donor Egg Donation: Donated eggs are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory to create embryos. Some couples prefer anonymous egg donations, although others may want somebody willing to donate their eggs.
- Gestational Carrier: This is where a gay couple will use a surrogacy agency, and the healthiest embryo or embryos created via IVF are transferred to the gestational carrier, ensuring a safe and successful pregnancy.
Get the Support and Inclusivity You Need in Your Family-Building Journey
When it comes to fertility planning for LGBTQ+ families, it’s a deeply personal journey. Our inclusive approach makes our fertility clinic an ideal choice for same-sex couples all around the world. At Red Rock Fertility Center, we are here to support you every step of the way. Assisted reproduction offers a variety of options to conceive and grow the family you’ve always dreamed of. There should never be a barrier to creating the family you want, and we believe in inclusivity and offering a wealth of information and services that will empower couples and individuals from all walks of life to make the best decisions on their path to parenthood. Whatever your orientation, transition status, or identity, if you want to become a parent, there is nothing stopping you.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you build your family, contact us and schedule a consultation. We will give you all of the options with a focus on openness and inclusivity and our caring doctors will help you understand every single component to build the best option for you and your family.