We believe that families, like babies, come in all shapes and sizes. We couldn’t be more proud to offer gay and lesbian couples options to build their families with the help of fertility treatments.
When you decide to let us help you start a family, you and your partner will have an initial consultation with one of our physicians. You’ll discuss your medical history, diagnostic testing, potential treatment, andfinancial options. After the consultation, you’ll have additional diagnostic testing to determine the fertility level of both partners; there arefertility tests for females and formale factor infertility.
Once the testing has been completed, your fertility team will work with you to develop the most appropriate treatment regimen for you and your goals. Potential treatments for same-sex couples include:
It is important to discuss your family planning goals with your physician, so they can help determine the best way to achieve those goals. Here are some questions to discuss with your partner about family planning:
Taking some time to think about these issues before your appointment can help you clarify what is important to you.
Once you decide on the best course of treatment for you, it is important to stay in communication with your fertility nurse and treatment planning team. Additional infectious disease testing may be required, depending on how you decide to proceed. This additional testing may be required by law and will need to be performed within a very specific timeline.
Finally, the use of an egg donor, known sperm donor, or gestational carrier may require that a legal contract be obtained in order to protect all involved parties. Aspire can refer you to attorneys who specialize in reproductive and family issues in order to obtain this legal clearance in a timely and stress-free way.
Donor sperm will also need to be selected. Though Aspire is not a sperm bank, we work with several nationally certified sperm banks and can help guide you through the selection process. The other option is to use a known sperm donor – a friend or family member who is not biologically related to the egg source. We can guide and support you throughout the entire process, no matter which option you choose.
The donor sperm can be used in intrauterine insemination, if the hormonal testing and hysterosalpingogram were normal. During this procedure, the sperm is placed directly into the carrier’s uterus through a small catheter that passes through the cervix.
Undergoing IVF for lesbians is a bit more complicated, simply because there are a few different ways that the cycle can occur. The IVF cycle can proceed in a very traditional sense – with one partner undergoing the entire IVF cycle, but utilizing donor sperm.
Some couples may choose to have one partner provide the egg and have the other partner carry the pregnancy. This is a more complex treatment. Both partners will undergo tests and will take medication to boost their fertility. The partner who will donate her eggs will also undergo an egg retrieval procedure. The eggs will be inseminated with the donor sperm; once the embryos mature, they will be transferred into the other partner’s uterus. While this is an powerful way for both partners to feel connected to the child, it can be significantly more expensive.
Gay men planning to build a family through fertility treatments will meet with their physician to discuss the details of using an egg donor and gestational carrier. Typically, couples decide together which partner will provide sperm. Some couples opt to each provide sperm to fertilize half of the eggs. The embryo used for transfer can be chosen deliberately or randomly. The partner providing sperm will undergo a semen analysis to test motility, volume, concentration, and morphology.
The couple will then meet with the Aspire team to choose an egg donor. You can review Aspire egg donors, choose donors from an outside agency, or even choose a family member or close friend. The egg donor will go through a special screening process, to evaluate her hormone levels and ensure that she is free from an infection.
If you are unsure how to select an egg donor, either anonymous or known, our experienced fertility nurses can help guide you through the process.
Finally, our team will refer you to an agency and attorney who specialize in gestational surrogacy. A gestational carrieris a woman who carries a pregnancy for another couple and has no biological link to that child. A surrogate is a woman who both contributes the egg and carries the pregnancy. A majority of cases in the United States utilize a gestational carrier, and not a traditional surrogate.
It is also possible to use someone that you know as your gestational carrier. We will work closely with you during this process, guiding you through the advantages and disadvantages of each of the different options, in order to make it as stress-free as possible.
Once you’ve identified a gestational carrier, an egg donor, and the sperm source, the IVF treatment cycle will proceed. The egg donor will begin the initial phase of the cycle by taking the pre-cycle and cycle injectable medications. Once the donor is ready for egg retrieval, the eggs will be retrieved and fertilized in the laboratory with the chosen sperm. The resulting embryos will continue their development in the lab and be transferred into the gestational carrier several days later.