30, 20, and even 10 years ago, there were far too many stereotypes surrounding individuals' use of IVF to grow their families.
Thankfully, IVF and other fertility treatments are now such an integral part of our practice and the field of family planning services/fertility help in general. What was once a fairly stigmatized way to grow families has become an anticipated and amazing part of our work.
This being said, many same-sex and LGBTQ+ couples have been able to have children easier and with far more support and resources than ever before. Sexual orientation no longer hinders or prohibits couples from having children and becoming loving parents in many of the ways shown here today.
The definition of a nuclear family in 2018 is completely different than it was decades ago, which we think is a wonderful thing!
4 Main Pregnancy Options for LGBTQ+ Families
1. For male-male couples, one of the main steps in a journey to a healthy pregnancy is finding a personal connection to act as an egg donor. For many people, an egg donor is a friend or family member who will donate enough eggs for a viable cycle. If you choose this option, you will still need a surrogate to carry the embryos when ready--but at least the donor egg procurement stage is already done.
2. If the above situation is not an option for you, you will need to take both steps: finding donor eggs and a surrogate. This is the main roadblock for our male-male couples who would like to start a family, as neither of you are able to carry the child. Depending on your state, you will face different legislation around whether the surrogate must be altruistic or can be paid. In New York, for example, for-profit surrogacy is not legal--and a paid surrogate can cost upward of $100,000.
No matter which of the LGBT pregnancy options you choose, we will encourage inclusiveness and thoughtfulness of your partner along the way. For example, if you are both male, but would like to use your own sperm with the egg donor, we will suggest using one of your sperm for a first pregnancy, and the other's for a second pregnancy. Depending on your goals and preferences, though, we could split the first cycle's donor eggs in half and develop embryos with each partner's sperm. However, we'll also advise on implanting the right number of embryos that develop depending on your situation.
3. IUI remains the option of choice for same-sex female couples who do not technically have proven infertility. A same-sex female couple needs a sperm source. Thankfully, there are so many sperm banks now with so many options that even if you don’t have someone close to you who has offered to provide sperm, you can still go to a sperm bank, look through the profiles, and select a donor who matches the characteristics you are looking for. (See the next section for how we advise you during this process.)
4. And finally, if we've identified any fertility roadblocks that may keep you from conceiving naturally or with IUI, we will pursue possible medical treatments or IVF. Timed egg release with IUI and tracking natural fertility, at first, can be a cost-efficient way to a healthy pregnancy. However, we might decide IVF is the best option based on your specific diagnosis and treatment plan.
Fertility Services Specific to the LGBTQ+ Community
At Kofinas Fertility Group, we customize our relationships with each patient. But our patient flow can start from a standard process until you go through your own unique treatments as our patients. There are standard and non-standard tests we might run depending on you and your partner. We clearly state what we do differently from other clinics and talk through every option with our patients.
Donor Selection and Genetic Counseling
For two female partners, we assist in guidance for selecting donor sperm, genetic testing of the embryos, and the very common reciprocal carrying (if one partner wants to carry the other's eggs). We might also suggest timely fertility preservation, or preserving embryos for future children.
Full Fertility Assessment to Ensure Efficiency in Donor Sperm/Egg Use
While a full fertility work-up is certainly part of our work with any patient pursuing fertility assistance with us, we certainly want to call out here an additional reason why it's so important as a part of our services for LGBTQ+ patients.
If you are using donor sperm or eggs, we recognize the possible additional costs your might have incurred and are sensitive to finding our absolute best possible attempts in each cycle. Our goal is to always identify any potential problems that could interfere with a healthy pregnancy, and this is especially true if you are using donor sperm or eggs.
We want to be certain we've identified any fertility roadblocks to make sure we have the highest success rate possible and operate with great efficiency in respect to your journey--even before any rounds of lower-costing treatments, such as IUI.
Insurance and Medical Billing Challenges for LGBTQ+ Families
Many of our same-sex couples are perfectly fertile or capable of carrying children, but they, however, choose a different path to build a family.
Unfortunately for our couples who do not have the option of carrying their own children (even if they each have no fertility conditions), the vast majority of insurances will not assist in surrogacy costs.
We help uncover conditions our patients may have affecting their fertility; with our diagnosis, there's a higher likelihood that health insurance will cover treatments, depending on the diagnosis.
Working With a Fertility Clinic Specializing in Your Needs
We hope the above information was useful in your research to find the best possible options for growing your family according to your family's desires. When you're ready to pursue any of the above services or if you'd simply like to talk, Kofinas Fertility Group would love to help you. Our welcoming environment and expert staff have helped countless modern families pursue parenthood with customized treatment plans.