It’s no secret that it can be difficult to conceive a child, especially when you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
But fertility care is vital for everyone, not just those who identify as LGBTQ+ because it creates families.
If you’re looking to have children with your partner, or if you’re thinking about starting a family with your spouse but feel like something’s holding you back, this guide will walk through all the steps necessary to get started on your journey toward parenthood.
What are the Options for Having Children?
Luckily, because the LGBTQ+ community shares many of the same experiences as straight couples when it comes to having children, there are many options for how they can become parents.
The most popular methods include sperm donor or egg donor, adoption, surrogacy, and gestational carriers.
Donor insemination is a common method of having children for gay men and lesbians. This can be done with a sperm donor or an egg donor, depending on the couple’s desires.
In a sperm donor situation, the male partner will have his sperm collected, and then it will be used to fertilize an egg from a donor.
In an egg donor situation, the female partner will undergo in vitro fertilization with her eggs and a donor’s sperm.
The resulting embryos are then transferred into her uterus.
The process begins with you selecting your donor and filling out paperwork to ensure that the two of you agree about how contact will be handled between him/her and any resulting offspring should they choose to reach out once they’re grown up.
IUI is a process where the male partner’s sperm is injected into the female partner’s uterus. The sperm then travels through her fallopian tubes and fertilizes an egg that has been retrieved from her ovaries. This procedure is mostly performed for lesbian couples.
The donor sperm is directly injected into the uterus. This can be done through a small tube that is inserted into your vagina or through a needle that is inserted into your cervix and then guided toward your uterus.
Surrogacy and Gestational carriers
Surrogacy is a process in which a woman carries and delivers a baby for another couple. The woman who carries the baby is called a gestational carrier or surrogate.
In order to qualify as a surrogate, you must be between 21-38 years old, have had at least one child of your own, and undergo extensive medical tests including blood work and genetic testing.
The surrogates are the biological mothers of the children, but they do not provide their own eggs. Instead, they carry the baby to term and then give birth.
Both gays and lesbians can opt for surrogacy and gestational method to have children.
Adoption is a legal process that permanently transfers custody rights of a child from a birth parent or parents to an adoptive parent or parents. A person who adopts a child is called an adopter.
This procedure is usually arranged through an agency licensed by the state government. An adoption is an option for both gay and lesbian couples. Some states allow gays and lesbians to adopt, but not all states do.
Who Can Help with Fertility Treatment?
You’re not alone in your journey to build a family. Fertility clinics, including those that specialize in LGBTQ+ fertility care, can help you design the best treatment plan for you and your partner(s) based on your unique needs.
These clinics are dedicated to helping people build families and are trained by experts in the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility with up-to-date knowledge of advanced reproductive technologies.
These procedures include egg freezing technology (egg freezing), embryo freezing technology (embryo freezing), sperm cryopreservation technology (sperm cryopreservation), donor gametes banking services, donor embryo banking services, and more.
Many organizations provide resources on LGBTQ+ fertility care including HRC’s guide to finding an LGBTQ-friendly clinic as well as its list of LGBTQ-friendly doctors who offer fertility care services.
How Can Fertility Clinics Help?
Fertility clinics can help in the following ways:
Diagnosis: A fertility clinic can determine if a couple is having trouble conceiving or if one of them has fertility issues.
This can be done through general exams and tests, as well as specialized testing for individuals who have particular conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
Treatment: A fertility clinic may recommend specific treatments for couples that want to conceive. For example, IVF (in vitro fertilization) is a common treatment option for people with infertility issues that affect both partners equally, while egg freezing is used when one partner has a low ovarian reserve
Post-treatment support: After receiving treatment at a fertility clinic, patients will typically attend follow-up appointments so they can monitor their progress and discuss the next steps if needed (whether it’s additional medication or more intense surgery.)
The clinic staff also works closely with other departments within their organization such as mental health providers who may provide therapy services after being treated for infertility issues like PTSD caused by previous unsuccessful IVF attempts.
They can also provide social workers who can assist with financial planning; dieticians or nutritionists who may suggest nutritional supplements to improve egg quality, etcetera.
Final thoughts; LGBTQ+ fertility care can make a difference in family-building.
Family-building is one of the most important, and often most challenging, decisions an LGBTQ person can make. At the end of the day, you want to have a family that reflects who you are as a person.
For decades, same-sex couples have been unable to legally adopt children until recently many states still banned second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples.
However, this has changed in recent years with more states recognizing both parents as legal parents and allowing them to adopt their partner’s biological child (and vice versa).
There are many options available when it comes to having children: surrogacy treatment, egg donation, sperm donation, adoption, co-parenting, etc.
Several fertility clinics around the world specialize in helping LGBTQ+ couples. They provide counseling for patients about all aspects of family building including emotional support services like grief counseling if needed due to past experiences with infertility treatment failure or rejection from society at large due to LGBTQ status.
Ultimately, when it comes to family-building, fertility care is about ensuring that everyone can make the choice that’s right for them. With more options than ever before, LGBTQ+ individuals have a wide range of choices—and we’re proud to help them achieve their goals.