There are many different kinds of families in today’s society. And while family building presents different challenges for a couple or individual in the LGBTQ+ community, that’s no reason to pump the brakes on fulfilling your dream.
According to Wikipedia, 63 percent of LGBTQ+ millennials are considering their options to grow their family. And 48 percent of LGBTQ+ millennials are actively seeking family-building options, compared with 55 percent of those who identify as non-LGBTQ+. This comparison shows the smallest gap between the two communities in generations.
Building all kinds of families means you need options, which we describe here.
Assisted Reproductive Technology Helps Build All Kinds of Families
Assisted reproductive technology, or ART, includes all fertility treatments in which either eggs or embryos are handled and has been used for a long time to assist those who experience infertility. ART also helps build families for same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ individuals with or without fertility issues.
Intrauterine insemination, or IUI, is a procedure that places sperm, either from a donor or partner, directly into the uterus to fertilize the egg. IUI may be a successful procedure for same-sex female couples and those born female transitioning to male who have retained their uterus.
The person carrying the pregnancy is monitored to track ovulation and may be given hormonal medication to increase the number of eggs to be released. Once ovulation occurs, the doctor uses a thin catheter to insert the sperm directly into the uterus.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is what most people think of when it comes to fertility treatment. Like IUI, with IVF, the doctor uses medication to stimulate the ovaries causing multiple eggs to mature. The doctor then performs a surgical egg retrieval, and the mature eggs are taken to the lab, where they are fertilized with sperm. Over the next three to five days, an embryologist monitors the developing embryos, and the healthiest are selected for transfer into the uterus.
For those in the LGBTQ+ community, the IVF procedure uses either donor sperm for same-sex female couples, or a donor egg(s) and gestational carrier for same-sex male couples.
Reciprocal IVF offers a path allowing both partners in a lesbian relationship to be biologically involved in the pregnancy. For a same sex-female couple, the doctor takes the egg from one partner, fertilizes it with donor sperm and transfers the embryo into the other partner carrying the pregnancy.
Third Party IVF
Third party IVF involves the use of donor eggs, donor sperm and/or a gestational carrier.
- Donor Eggs: For same-sex male couples, donor eggs are fertilized with one partner’s sperm–or a mixture of both partners’ sperm–and the embryo is placed into a gestational carrier. The egg donor may be anonymously selected through an agency, or a friend or family member may provide the egg in order to retain a biological connection.
- Donor Sperm: For IVF or IUI, same-sex female partners will use donor sperm, again either anonymously from a sperm bank or a friend or family member, if they wish to retain a biological connection.
- Donor Embryos: Couples or individuals may also choose to build a family using cryogenically preserved (frozen) donated embryos, either from a known or anonymous donor.
- Gestational Carrier: A gestational carrier and IVF utilizing a donor egg are necessary for same-sex male couples and individuals. The carrier may be someone you know or chosen through an agency. There are several reasons–including legal–why the egg donor shouldn’t be the carrier, and your doctor will walk you through the options. Same-sex female couples, those who’ve already transitioned from female to male, those who transitioned from male to female but lack a uterus, or individuals without a uterus may also opt for a gestational carrier.
Consult With a Lawyer
One caveat before you begin this journey: please reach out to an attorney so you understand how the law works in your state. Knowing where you stand legally helps you prepare and protect you, your partner, and your family.
Compassionate and Inclusive Patient Care
At Reproductive Health and Wellness, you can be sure that we support you with inclusive and patient-centered care. Contact Reproductive Health and Wellness today, and let’s get started building your family.
At Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, we are experts at treating fertility issues. We provide the latest in cutting-edge embryo science by using the latest technologies, and we create innovative fertility plans tailored specifically to each individual. But we’re so much more.