The decision to start a family is exciting! Like couples faced with infertility or difficulty conceiving, same-sex couples face unique challenges. But, thanks to modern Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), more LGBTQ couples than ever before have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of starting a family.
The process of figuring out where to start can be daunting. To start, here are the available fertility options for same-sex couples:
Fertility Options for Female Couples
There are two fertility options for lesbian couples, both of which require the use of donor sperm. Donor sperm may be from an anonymous donor from a sperm bank or from a known donor of your choice such as a friend or family member.
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) with donor sperm is the simplest fertility option for female same-sex couples. This procedure is very precise, well-planned and scheduled along with the process of natural ovulation. In some cases, fertility medications may be used to control the timing of ovulation. On the day of ovulation, a small volume of concentrated semen is injected directly into the uterus.
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Although more complex, some lesbian couples may opt to use in vitro fertilization with donor sperm. The primary reason couples choose this method is because IVF allows both partners to participate in the birth of their child. One woman can donate her eggs while her partner carries the pregnancy, a process called reciprocal IVF or egg sharing.
Fertility Options for Male Couples
For gay male couples who wish to become parents, there is one fertility option available which relies on an egg donor. A donor egg may be from a friend or family member or you can choose a donor who best matches your preferences from a private, online database of pre-screened candidates.
- Gestational Surrogacy: For this option, IVF is performed using eggs from a donor, along with sperm from one or both of the male partners. One or two of the best embryos are transferred into the uterus of the gestational carrier, who will then carry the pregnancy.
Choosing a Donor or Surrogate
- Egg Donor: You may already know a friend or family member that is willing to donate her eggs. Another option is to select an anonymous donor from Carolina Conceptions’ private database of prescreened candidates. This option allows couples to choose a donor based on their preferences including ethnicity and education level. The last weekend of each month, we offer a sneak peek of our database for those who may be interested in using an egg donor. You can review information about our available egg donors such as ethnicity, education level, and interests, as well as view a photo.
- Sperm Donor: As we mentioned, finding a sperm donor can be achieved in two ways–an anonymous donor through a sperm bank or a known donor such as a family member or friend. The decision as to which option you pursue ultimately depends on your preferences and with what you are most comfortable. To help you decide, here is some additional information about known versus unknown donors including a list of the some of the FDA-approved sperm banks that we commonly with.
- Gestational Carrier: Couples can choose to use a family member or friend who meets the physical requirements for a gestational carrier, or they can view profiles of women who offer their services through Carolina Conceptions. With either option, the couple will also need to hire a reproductive law attorney (don’t worry, we can help with this). Those interested in our gestational carrier program are encouraged to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians. At that point, if you would like to take the next steps you can make a deposit and gain access to view the profiles of our available carriers.
Why Choose Carolina Conceptions
Carolina Conceptions has been historically committed to providing members of the gay and lesbian community with opportunities to build their families. Since 2006, we have worked with heterosexual couples, same-sex couples and single parents to help them bring nearly 5,000 babies into the world. For more information about which fertility option is best for you and your partner, call (919) 782-5911 to schedule an appointment today.