There are many options now available for same-sex couples interested in conceiving a child. These options may involve taking eggs or sperm from one or both partners or having one partner carry the child. Some of the most common treatments include IUI, IVF, and donor sperm.
IUI is an artificial insemination fertility treatment that requires doctors to insert sperm into a woman’s uterus to encourage egg fertilization. For this treatment to work, the woman must have a healthy uterus, eggs, and fallopian tubes. Before IUI takes place, doctors examine the patient’s physical health. Then, the female patient is given medication to stimulate ovulation and mature the eggs. This portion of the treatment may last for a few weeks or months. After the eggs have matured, doctors take a sample of semen and
The success of IUI depends on the woman’s age and quality of eggs. In rare circumstances, multiple eggs get fertilized, and women become pregnant with multiple embryos. The process isn’t painful, and IUI may be a good option for lesbian couples trying to start a family.
IVF is a form of assisted reproductive technology that involves medication and medical procedures. The female carrier will take medication to stimulate ovulation and egg growth. Once the eggs mature, the doctors remove eggs from the ovaries, also called egg retrieval. Once retrieved, the doctors bring the eggs to a lab and combine the eggs with sperm to stimulate fertilization. If fertilization is successful, embryos form, and doctors place the embryo into the female carrier’s uterus. Now the embryo must attach to the carrier’s uterine lining to start a pregnancy. After the transfer, doctors will monitor the carrier and possibly administer progesterone shots to encourage embryo growth. This option may be a good choice for gay couples looking to donate sperm to the egg.
Donor sperm can be used in both IUI and IVF treatments. Donor sperm is a sperm sample submitted by a male for reproductive purposes. In IUI, the sperm sample is washed to preserve the sperm cells which are then injected into the uterus. In intracervical insemination, semen is placed in the woman’s cervix. Donor sperm involves no penetration. The sperm is either extracted from the testes or through ejaculation. Then, the sample is placed in the vagina using a syringe.
A fertility specialist is the best resource for same-sex couples exploring reproductive options. The couple’s primary care provider can offer a recommendation, or couples can research specialists like reprouductive endocrinologists. Many fertility clinics have experts that work closely with same-sex couples to provide counseling and reproductive services. For more information about assisted reproductive technologies, speak with a fertility specialist.