In the last several decades, lesbian would-be parents have increasingly sought reproductive assistance to have babies. It is estimated that approximately one-third of lesbian households have children, having achieved motherhood either through non-assisted insemination, fertility treatment, adoption or through prior heterosexual relationships.
While two women trying to make a family together equals double the set of reproductive organs, they still may encounter obstacles on their way to getting pregnant and having a baby.
If you are part of a same sex female couple, here are some important issues you should consider as you embark on your family building journey.
Testing may necessitate a change in plans
Often couples come to us with a well-conceived idea of who will carry the child and who will provide the egg. However, testing may reveal that one or both women have reproductive challenges.
If that happens, we urge flexibility in moving forward. Many lesbian couples realize they need assistance with insemination, but may not anticipate infertility issues that could arise after we perform diagnostic testing on the woman who will be the genetic mother and/or carry the pregnancy.
Many assisted reproductive options are available
Most couples, especially those with no known infertility conditions, start with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), where donor sperm is specially washed, processed, and concentrated. Once the sperm has been prepared, it is placed in the uterus using a procedure similar to what you experience in a pap smear.
After three unsuccessful IUIs or the identification of an infertility diagnosis through testing, our doctors will recommend in vitro fertilization. One woman can be the genetic mother and also carry the child or each woman can play a role through reciprocal IVF. Occasionally, neither female partner has viable eggs, and then we will recommend donor eggs or donor embryos. If both women have problems with their uterus, they may need to consider surrogacy.
Both partners can be involved in creating their baby
Reciprocal IVF, also known as co-maternity, is a way for two women to be involved in the creation and gestation of their baby. One woman participates in the egg retrieval to use her eggs. The eggs are combined with donor sperm to form embryos. The resulting embryos are transferred to her partner’s uterus.
If both women want to experience childbirth, they each can undergo IVF simultaneously or at another time when they want to expand their family.
Outside legal counsel might be needed
Since there are LGBT legal and contractual issues regarding same sex parenting, HRC offers legal resources for its patients. This is especially important when you are using a known sperm donor to ensure that donor has no legal parental claim or obligations.
HRC Fertility is dedicated to helping lesbian women achieve their dreams of parenthood. Having a baby is the beginning of an exciting journey that starts with finding a knowledgeable, committed fertility team to guide you and your partner.