Same-sex couples should enjoy the same rights to start a family as anyone else. While LGBT couples may not be able to have a child biologically on their own, there are fertility treatments that can assist them in starting a family, often while sharing a biological connection to the child.
One of the most common treatments for LGBT couples is intrauterine insemination (IUI). IUI involves depositing sperm into a woman’s uterus to encourage egg fertilization.
IUI treatment will look a little different for LGBT patients depending on the status of their relationship. One thing that all LGBT couples have in common when undergoing IUI treatment is that they will need to work with either a sperm donor or a surrogate carrier.
Those of our patients who need to work with a surrogate or a sperm donor have two options: they can work with a known donor/surrogate (typically a friend or family member), or they can choose a donor/surrogate from an agency.
When choosing a surrogate or donor from an agency, patients can rest assured that all candidates are carefully screened. Prospective parents have their own opportunity to read donor/surrogate files so that they can choose a candidate that best matches their unique specifications.
When same-sex female couples undergo IUI treatment, they will work with a sperm donor. The donor provides a semen sample that is washed and concentrated for the IUI procedure.
Same-sex female couples will also need to choose who will carry the child. In many cases, one member of the couple donates her eggs while her partner undergoes IUI and carries the pregnancy. This may be based on personal choice or on each woman’s fertile health.
In the case that both women are unable to produce eggs or carry a child themselves, egg donors and/or surrogates may be required.
Same-sex male couples who are undergoing IUI will need to work with a surrogate. Since sperm is inserted into the surrogate’s uterus, she will both carry the child and be biologically related to the child. This is known as a traditional surrogate.
Same-sex male couples will also need to decide who provides the sperm for the IUI procedure. In some cases, both men provide sperm and a mix of their biological material is used for treatment. This allows either male partner to be biologically connected to their child.
Once treatment planning is complete, IUI actually goes pretty quickly.
Most women undergo ovarian stimulation prior to IUI. This stimulates the ovaries so that multiple mature eggs are produced. The day after receiving a trigger shot (which stimulates the release of eggs), IUI is performed. The collected sperm sample is passed to the uterus via a thin, flexible catheter that is inserted in the vagina. The sperm is released and treatment is complete.
Most patients are anxious to learn if IUI has been a success. Fertility medications that are used during IUI can result in false pregnancy results. For this reason, we ask patients to refrain from at-home pregnancy testing.
Instead, fertility patients will return to our office two weeks after their IUI procedure to undergo a blood test. This official test will let us know if the IUI treatment has resulted in a pregnancy.
If you live in the Scottsdale area and would like to learn more about becoming a parent, the fertility specialists at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health would be happy to meet with you. To set up a consultation, send us a message online at your earliest convenience, or call (480) 860-4792.