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Houston Fertility Journal

LGBT Pregnancy Options: What's Right for You?

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 13, 2016 10:59:50 AM / by Center of Reproductive Medicine   

Center of Reproductive Medicine

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Every couple has a boatload of decisions to make when embarking on the journey to start a family. A lot of these questions are the same despite religion, sexual orientation, or age. But many vary based on these factors as well.

One important fact rings true, however, that being a same sex couple does not prevent you from being able to make a baby. It’s the actual process of conceiving that can vary. The basics of anatomy 101 remain the same: you need an egg from a female and a sperm from a male to help make your baby. Depending on if the two of you are male, female, or transgender, you will need a reliable and trusted donor.

Consider your options and the people you involve carefully, the decisions you make during this process will define your family and future. There is a lot to think about -- from open donor options to considering help from a friend. As you explore LGBT pregnancy options, take time to weigh what is important to you and the ones you love.

If You Were Born with Female Anatomy, You Will Need To Find a Sperm Donor

There are a few options for someone in need of a sperm donor. Some turn to a loved one, others receive offers from close friends, and there are professional sperm banks as well. Sperm banks are known to be very safe, as donors must provide their extensive personal and family medical histories. Medical evaluation of sperm donors include:

  • Screenings for sexually transmitted diseases
  • The presence of HIV antibodies
  • A history of genetic disorders

Typically in a standard donation, the donor has absolutely no access to the identity of those carrying his sperm (though there are cases of open donors for interested parties). When going through this process, in almost every case, the donor has given up his rights to the sperm. Research has found women have the most success using donor insemination when they are under the age of 35 and free of any fertility issues. (Women in the LGBT community may also need a to find a gestational carrier if they discover they are having issues with infertility.)

If You Were Born with Male Anatomy, You Will Need To Find a Surrogate

When it comes to deciding who will carry the child for you, a friend or loved one is always an option. It may be your preference that the woman carrying your child involves someone you already spend a lot of time with and enjoy being around. If you do not have this type of person or would rather not involve a friend or loved one, you will need to find a surrogate gestational carrier.

(The Center of Reproductive Medicine can assist with the process of locating a gestational carrier.)

The American Society for Reproductive medicine requires that an elected surrogate undergoes an exam to make sure her body is prepared for a healthy full-term pregnancy. She is also tested for sexually transmitted diseases and should be checked for immunity to measles and chickenpox.

The cost for a gestational carrier varies depending on insurance coverage and whether you have to buy her a surrogacy pregnancy policy. Your rights as parents are not guaranteed when using a surrogate since the child is genetically and biologically related to her.  To protect your rights and guarantee your surrogate will follow through on all that you require of her, it is recommended that you hire an attorney who can write up a contract that clearly defines your expectations.

Fertilizing The Egg

There are two ways to fertilize an egg artificially:

  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Sperm is inserted into the uterus, bypassing the cervix, while a woman is ovulating. This is the more commonly used option since it is less invasive and costs less than In Vitro Fertilization. According to scientific observation this, “reduces psychological burden on the couple.”
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Eggs are extracted from the ovary and fertilized outside of the uterus. The fertilized embryo is implanted directly back into the uterus. This is proven to be the most successful procedure, but is more invasive and prices are much higher.

Follicle stimulating hormones are usually given to the woman in both scenarios as well to multiply her eggs so there is a higher chance of successful pregnancy.

Problems That May Occur

No matter who you are, it is always possible that you may struggle with infertility issues. Just as 15 percent of heterosexual couples are infertile, 15 percent of same-sex couples will also have infertility to consider as a potential factor.

Common fertility issues for females include:

  • Damage to fallopian tubes
  • Extremely brief menstrual cycles
  • Thyroid problems
  • A tumor or cyst
  • Hormonal imbalances

Common issues for males include:

  • Low sperm counts
  • Poor sperm quality
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Genetic defects

In same-sex couples, if only one partner has fertility issues, there is a procedure that can be done using the gametes of the other partner. If both couples have issues, then you can discuss further treatments to take with your doctor.

If you are finding this process to be difficult or are continually hitting a barrier, remember there is always a way to move forward. Continue to have open and honest communication with your partner and trusted doctor about LGBT pregnancy options and what you feel is right for your body.

For more insights into your fertility options, download our free comprehensive eBook, The Simplified Guide to the Complicated World of Infertility.

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Topics: LGBT Pregnancy

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