On the evening of Wednesday, August 6, I will be speaking at an event put on by the American Fertility Association entitled “Gay Women’s Gathering — An Evening about Lesbian Pregnancy.” This is an excellent opportunity for gay women couples to discover the pros and cons of different methods of becoming pregnant.
When a lesbian couple wants to create a family with a biological connection, the first step is to get an overall general health and fertility check-up. This includes making sure all vaccinations are up to date; checking the egg supply, which means evaluating ovarian reserve with an ultrasound follicle count, and testing the estradiol hormone (E2) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) with blood tests; and testing the thyroid to make sure it is functioning normally. In addition, the check-up would include an evaluation of the uterus and fallopian tubes to make sure everything looks normal.
Lesbian couples have essentially two options available to them for getting pregnant: artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, within each of these options, there are multiple possibilities.
If a lesbian couple has no fertility issues, artificial insemination is often an attractive option. There are three ways to perform the procedure. Intravaginal insemination can be performed in a physician’s office or at home, and it is done with unwashed sperm. Intracervical insemination can be performed with washed or unwashed sperm in a physician’s office. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is performed with washed sperm in a physician’s office, and it clearly has a much higher success rate.
Most often, a couple chooses artificial insemination with an anonymous donor, in which the appropriate steps have been taken through a clinical program or sperm bank, and the donor has undergone an extensive screening process. However, some choose artificial insemination with a known donor, in which the sperm donor is a family member or friend known to the couple. In this circumstance, I recommend that the parties involved should undergo counseling together and clarify how involved the sperm donor will be in the child’s life, and a legal contract should be drawn up. Known donors should also be screened according to American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) guidelines just like an anonymous donor would be.
If there are no fertility problems, artificial insemination with anonymous donor sperm purchased through a sperm bank is typically one of the safest routes for a lesbian couple. Sperm purchased through a sperm bank has been cryopreserved (frozen) and quarantined for six months, while the donor has been tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In addition, current laws do not allow anonymous donors to claim any legal rights to the children born through their donation.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is a fertility treatment in which eggs (oocytes) are collected from a woman, sperm is collected from a man, and an embryo is created outside of the body by combining the eggs and sperm in the laboratory.
A lesbian couple may choose to have IVF with an anonymous or known sperm donor. In cases, where both of the female partners want to participate in the pregnancy, they may choose to do “reciprocal IVF.” In this circumstance, one female partner undergoes the ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval. The embryo (s) is created with either an anonymous or known sperm donor. And then, the embryo is transferred to the other female partner so that she can experience the pregnancy.
During the August 6 seminar, we will be discussing several topics, including:
- Choosing a Sperm Donor — It’s Not Just about Eye Color
- Getting Pregnant through Insemination or In Vitro Fertilization — At Home or Not at Home?
- Unraveling the Legal Deal — How Do I Keep My Family Safe?
- Maintaining Optimum Health — A Checklist for You and Your Partner
The event, sponsored by California Cryobank, takes place on Wednesday, August 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, and refreshments will be served. Reservations are preferred, so please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (718) 853-1411.
For more comprehensive information on help for gay couples who want to become pregnant, please visit my website: www.rainbowreproduction.com. Also, watch Dana and Kira's experience below: