By: Dr. John Park 

Since Carolina Conceptions has opened its doors in 2006, we have been committed to helping the LGBT community have the families they want.  On May 6th we celebrated the LGBT community by again sponsoring the OUT! Raleigh festival in downtown Raleigh.  The event is a fundraiser for the LGBT Center of Raleigh and features live music, a kids zone, food trucks, and many vendors.  For those who stopped by our booth, we discussed the various methods available to help gay couples become parents.


More options exist for lesbian couples than for gay male couples.  The most common method chosen by lesbians is to use donor sperm for intrauterine insemination (IUI).  IUI involves the injection of washed sperm directly into the uterus on the day of ovulation.  The timing of ovulation can be controlled through the use of fertility medications, and sometimes insemination is performed after controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH).  COH is done in women who are older and have lower quality eggs, or in women who have failed simpler treatment and wish to be more aggressive.


Another popular method is often called reciprocal in vitro fertilization (IVF).  This refers to the process where one partner (genetic mother) will have her eggs fertilized with donated sperm, but the other partner (gestational mother) will carry the pregnancy.  Reciprocal IVF allows both partners to be involved in the process of having a baby, but is significantly more complicated and much more expensive than donor insemination.


For gay male couples, both an egg donor and a gestational carrier (gestational surrogate) are needed.  The egg donor will go through ovarian stimulation to produce a group of eggs, which are later fertilized by the sperm from one or both of the partners.  The resulting embryo(s) are transferred into the uterus of the gestational carrier.  The cost of IVF with donated eggs is already very high, and the addition of a gestational carrier often puts this form out treatment out of reach for many gay couples.  Since the most expensive part of the process is the gestational carrier’s compensation, it is very helpful for the couple to use a friend or family member as the carrier, who will not ask for monetary compensation.


For the transgender population, it is important to consider freezing sperm or eggs before hormone treatment or surgery.  We can work with a transgender patient and come up with a plan to provide everything needed to have a child.


Because the family building processes are different for LGBT parents, it is best for everyone to consult with an attorney who is experienced in this specific area of family law.  To make things more complicated, the legal issues for egg donation and gestational carrier use often vary from state to state.  Using an experienced attorney will help protect your legal rights as a parent to your future child.