A Fertility Center Can Help LGBTQ Women Realize the Dream of Pregnancy
Sexual preference doesn’t affect fertility so why should it affect your chances of becoming pregnant? With a little help from your gay-friendly fertility center, lesbians can become biological parents. While some LGBTQ individuals choose to become parents through adoption, more people than ever are becoming biological parents using fertility services. With many gay-friendly fertility centers available, the dream of biological parenthood is within the reach of most gay women today.
Many women, including gay women, grow up dreaming of being pregnant with their own children someday. It’s a combination of societal norms, societal conditioning and hormones, after all, who can resist an adorable little baby? There’s got to be a reason, besides wanting to invade another person’s personal space, that people are drawn to pregnant abdomens and want to rub them. Generally, straight women find a male partner they want to parent with, or just want to father their child, and get pregnant the traditional “fun” way. Gay women, however, need to do a bit more planning to achieve the dreamed of pregnancy. They generally find it totally worthwhile, however. Christy K describes her family’s journey to parenthood with the help of Reproductive Sciences Medical Center in San Diego:
“My wife and I had a consultation with Dr. Wood and fell in love with his laid back gentle demeanor right away. We got pregnant on our FIRST IUI treatment with Dr. Wood and had our first daughter in June 2010. Fast forward 1 1/2 years and we were ready to try again but we were in a predicament this time! We only had one vial of sperm left and we wanted our children to be full biological siblings. So, after another consult with Dr. Wood he suggested we go IVF this time due to my wife’s age and only having one try available. On our first IVF and final try we got pregnant with our second daughter and she was born on 12/12/12.”
Since you need both the egg and the sperm to create this pregnancy, the first thing to consider, since the egg is already available, is where the sperm is coming from. There are a couple of options, the most popular are:
- Known donor, fresh or frozen sperm. This is a donor you know who is willing to provide sperm upon demand. The woman can be inseminated using IUI (Intrauterine insemination), a procedure involves the injection of sperm into the uterus by means of a catheter directed through the cervix. This in-office procedure gets the sperm to where it needs to be so it has a better chance of meeting the egg and fertilizing it. The procedure is minimally invasive and is done at a fertility clinic or medical center. In order to use IUI the sperm has to be spun so there is only sperm, no ejaculate. Since the sperm has to be processed anyway, any sperm not used for the first IUI can be frozen for future procedures. For some women, it’s really important to know the donor personally, he may be a relative of her spouse/partner or good friend, so for them this is a good option. The cost for the sperm is minimal (there is a small cost involved in processing, or washing, the sperm for IUI) and she will have access to a complete family medical history. However, unless the plan is to co-parent with this donor, the woman will need to make sure she has all the legal paperwork in place signing away his legal rights to the child. The downside of fresh sperm is that it hasn’t been tested for diseases that can be transmitted to the mother and child. The recommended guidelines from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the FDA are to quarantine the sperm for six months and have the donor tested for certain viral diseases, including HIV. Since freezing the sperm doesn’t harm it if it’s good quality sperm, this is a good precaution to take even when the mother feels she knows the donor well.
- Anonymous donor, frozen sperm. One thing frozen sperm has going for it immediately is that it’s already been tested for disease and is full of healthy little swimmers. The sperm bank will test the sperm for viability, along with disease, and only healthy sperm are included in the sample sold. This sperm is exactly what it says, anonymous. The donor never knows who his donations go to and the mother never receives identifying information on the donor. The donor has signed away any rights to the children conceived with his sperm before the sperm is sold to anybody. Donor profiles contain information like family history, race, academic achievements, looks and other factors like interests.
- Known donor, frozen sperm. This is a service offered by some sperm banks, the donors are willing to have their information known by the parents and children their sperm helps conceive. These donors don’t necessarily want to be part of the child’s life, or any shared custody, but are willing to communicate with the families. For women who want to know as much as possible about the sperm donor, but don’t want to go with a known donor, this is a good option.
The next question is often “how to go about getting pregnant.” This is really between the woman and the medical professionals at her fertility clinic but generally:
- IUI is a great option if the woman is under 35 and has no reason to suspect fertility problems. The success rate is better than the “turkey baster” option at home and if you’re paying for sperm that is a consideration. If there is no pregnancy achieved after three IUI sessions then it’s time to start discussing IVF with your fertility center.
- IVF is the gold standard for achieving pregnancy. Women over 35, women with a history of erratic periods, and women with known fertility problems are advised to go straight to IVF since it will be their best chance to get pregnant and do it quickly.
There’s no reason for a woman to forego pregnancy because of her sexual preference. With all the assistance available at your local fertility center, parenthood is now within easy reach.