Over the past few decades, laws have become more progressive and public opinion more accepting when it comes to same-sex parents’ rights and access to parenthood. As a result, starting a family when you’re in a lesbian couple is thankfully much simpler now than it was a few decades ago. Check out our break down of all the fertility techniques available to lesbian couples who want to have a baby below.
Since 2016, same-sex couples can adopt or foster a child in the 50 states of America, even though today, LGBTQ people still face legal complications when it comes to adoption. Despite this, adopting a child is definitely still an attractive option for lesbian couples who want to become parents.Furthermore, according to a study quoted on the website Lifelongadoptions, about two million LGBTQ people are interested in adopting. The site adds that in the US, same-sex parents are responsible for raising 4% of all adopted children. More precisely, 22,000 adopted children are being raised by an LGBTQ couple.
One of the options available to lesbian couples who want to complete their family is donor insemination. This is one of the most popular paths to parenthood, as it ensures that one of the partners will be the biological mother of the child and will also carry him or her to term.Donor insemination, which is when donor sperm is used during a fertility treatment, necessitates (as you may well have inferred) someone willing to donate their semen. Luckily, there are now many ways to find a donor, and it actually has become much easier today to find a suitable match.
Same-sex couples (as well as single women) can select a known donor online on a dedicated website such as CoParents.com. They can also look for a donor from a sperm bank in the USA or overseas. Others prefer to ask a friend or a relative to be their donor.
There are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to choosing a donor (private sperm bank or online site? Known or anonymous donor? Level of contact with the child? Etc.) Another essential factor to consider is whether you want to conceive via natural insemination (i.e. through intercourse), artificial insemination at home or intrauterine insemination.
Insemination at home with donor sperm
Many lesbian couples choose to perform home insemination because they find this option more intimate, comfortable and reassuring.Once the couple has selected their donor and collected the sample (which can be sent to their place of residence or delivered directly by the donor), they then perform the artificial insemination procedure themselves with the help of a needleless syringe or an oral medicine syringe. Some prefer to use an instead cup to insert semen into their vagina. In the end, there is no need for medical staff, although it’s always best to get a doctor’s advice beforehand.
IUI with donor sperm
IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is a fertility technique that involves placing sperm into the uterus via a thin catheter to facilitate the fertilization. The procedure is performed by medical staff and medication to stimulate the ovaries might also be used. Just as with at-home insemination, donor sperm can be used during the treatment.
This option is particularly suitable for those who feel more reassured having the insemination performed by a professional.
IVF with donor sperm
In vitro fertilization (IVF for those in the know) is another fertility treatment that aims to facilitate the fertilization of the egg with sperm. It’s more invasive and expensive than IUI, but also more effective. Women over 40 or those with infertility or genetic problems may be advised to try IVF instead of intrauterine insemination, as there is a higher chance of conceiving via this technique.
So, what is IVF? In short, mature eggs are first retrieved from the body of one of the partners. They are then fertilized with donor sperm in a laboratory. Once they have become embryos, they are reimplanted into the aforementioned partner’s womb. Women who choose this technique can use their own eggs or those of a donor, in addition to donor sperm.
Same-sex couples can also opt for reciprocal IVF. This option is very interesting for lesbian partners as the technique allows both of them to participate and to be physically involved in their pregnancy.Reciprocal IVF allows for one partner to provide the eggs, while the other carries and delivers the baby. As with standard IVF, the eggs of partner 1 are collected through surgery before being fertilized by anonymous or known donor sperm in a lab. The resultant embryos are then implanted into partner 2’s womb.In this case, although she carries the child, the second partner won’t be the biological mother, as the embryos are not created using her own eggs.
As mentioned above, the lesbian partners can also use donor eggs in addition to donor sperm. They may do so because one or both partners are carrying a genetic disorder that they could pass on to the baby, or because they have fertility issues.
Using egg donation to have a baby involves undergoing in vitro fertilization. The intended mother who will carry the baby must prepare her endometrial lining for implantation by taking medication (estrogen and progesterone). Then, just like with IVF, the donor eggs are fertilized in a lab with sperm. The embryos are then transferred into the future mom’s uterus.
Finally, an option that is becoming more and more popular amongst women is to freeze their eggs to keep them for later use, when they’re ready to become a mom. As fertility and quality of eggs decline with age, storing frozen oocytes is a good way to have healthy eggs put aside for the future.Additionally, making use of this technology gives you more time to find the perfect donor with whom to have a baby.