At URA, we have assisted many gay and lesbian couples achieve their family-building dreams. The first step is a consultation with one of our physicians to gather information and to discuss the possible treatment options available to you.
Depending on the circumstances, we would then proceed to diagnostic testing on one or both partners prior to moving ahead with treatment.
FERTILITY TREATMENT FOR LESBIAN COUPLES
Prior to proceeding with treatment, the couple must decide which partner will carry the pregnancy. That partner will undergo basic blood work and ultrasound to assess her ovarian reserve, followed by a hysterosalpingogram (dye test) to make sure the fallopian tubes are open. If all testing is normal, the couple typically would select donor sperm then proceed with intrauterine insemination (IUI), a technique in which the sperm is placed directly into the uterus with a small catheter at the time of ovulation.
Under certain circumstances, the couple may decide that one partner will provide the egg while the other partner will carry the pregnancy. In this case, the woman providing the egg undergoes ovarian stimulation followed by a surgical egg retrieval, while her partner takes medication to prepare the uterus to receive the embryo. The egg is fertilized with donor sperm in the lab, and the resulting embryo or embryos are placed into the uterus several days later. While this process may allow both partners to feel more connected to the pregnancy, it is more complex and expensive than IUI. However, it is the treatment of choice if there is a significant infertility issue to be overcome (e.g., blocked fallopian tubes) or if one partner has significant medical issues that would make it unsafe for her to carry a pregnancy.
URA does not have a sperm bank but can help refer you to sperm banks that comply with the FDA standards of safety and testing.
FERTILITY TREATMENT FOR GAY COUPLES
Fertility treatment for gay men planning to build a family typically involves the use of donor eggs as well as a separate gestational carrier. Depending on which partner’s sperm will be used to inseminate the eggs, one or both men will undergo semen analysis. Your physician will assist you in selecting a suitable egg donor, either through a donor agency (“fresh egg donor”) or through a donor egg bank (“frozen egg donor”). We will also put you in contact with agencies that will help you find a gestational carrier. Once all of these decisions have been made and the appropriate testing is complete, we will obtain the eggs. If the couple is using fresh egg donor, that donor will undergo ovarian stimulation followed by surgical egg retrieval, after which her involvement in the fertility process is complete. If the couple is using a frozen egg bank, the eggs would be purchased and shipped to URA. The eggs are inseminated with one or both partner’s sperm, and an embryo or embryos are then placed into the uterus of the gestational carrier.
Please keep in mind that sperm used in this process is typically frozen and quarantined for 6 months before it is released for use. This is to comply with FDA standards since your sperm is being used to achieve pregnancy in a third party. Therefore, you should consider completing the semen analysis and sperm freezing early in the process so it does not delay treatment.