There are so many fertility treatment options available, for example, everything from donor sperm insemination, artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, using a gestational carrier, and testing embryos through preimplantation genetic screening. California Centre for Reproductive Health has vast experience with the LGBTQ community and offers various Santa Monica LGBTQ fertility options helping these couples have a chance in building families.
Fertility options for lesbians
Treatment for female same-sex partners typically begins with an infertility workup. If there are no infertility issues found, then treatment begins with donor sperm insemination.
Donor sperm insemination involves putting sperm from a sperm donor inside a woman’s uterus. A same-sex female couple typically acquires sperm through a sperm bank and on some occasions, the couple has a friend that they would like to use as a sperm donor. If a friend or non-sexually intimate partner is used as a sperm donor, they need to be tested for infectious diseases before providing the sperm specimen. The specimen then needs to be preserved for six months. That makes it undergo another infectious disease testing six months later before the sperm can be released.
In a same-sex female couple, both women are included in pregnancy, this is done by having one woman create the eggs and undergo the egg retrieval process while the other woman can have the embryo placed inside their uterus.
Frozen sperm does not last as long as fresh sperm. Therefore, pregnancy rates using frozen sperm are not as high as using fresh sperm.
It is crucial to time this insemination properly because donor sperm has been frozen and does not last as long as fresh sperm. To time the insemination properly, your doctor will need to know when the woman is ovulating. A woman can check her ovulation at home using an ovulation predictor kit, which involves urinating on a stick. The stick is looking to see evidence of an LH surge. Luteinizing hormone is usually released when a woman is ovulating. Once a woman sees her LH surge, we provide the donor sperm insemination in the office.
An alternative option is for the woman to visit the office for periodic evaluation of their blood hormone levels with a blood test and an ultrasound to see if a follicle is developing. A follicle is a potential egg. Once the egg has developed, your doctor can release that egg with an injection and then schedule the insemination accordingly. Otherwise, your doctor can wait for you to ovulate on your own before providing insemination.
When LGBTQ couples are pursuing a pregnancy with any of the above methods, there are specific consents involved and legal contracts involved to protect the intended parents’ rights.
Important things to consider when deciding who is going to carry the pregnancy
There are fewer risks at a pregnancy when the person carrying the pregnancy has a normal body mass index when they do not have coexisting medical conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. It is often suggested that younger woman use their eggs to create a pregnancy. However, if both partners will eventually want to use their eggs, the doctor will use the older woman first.
The most important thing to remember is that all treatments work in most cases. However, the doctor will develop a plan based on what a couple is interested in.
Couples can start an infertility workup through their general practitioner, primary care provider, OB/GYN, or a reproductive endocrinologist/infertility specialist.
Contact the California Center for Reproductive Health to learn more about the available LGBTQ fertility options.
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