Triad Phone: 336-448-9100
Charlotte Phone: 844-686-2233

Questions? Ask the doctor

Our Blog

Fertility Options for Same-Sex Parents

Pregnant lesbian couple with a pair of pink baby shoes; blog: Fertility Options for Same-Sex Parents

Because of advancements in assisted reproductive technology (ART), same-sex parents have more options than they used to when it comes to building their families. In the past, options were limited and most couples pursued adoption. Now, there are many fertility options for same-sex parents.

Fertility Options for Female Same-Sex Parents

Female couples that want to have a baby can pursue either intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Lesbian same-sex parents will need to get donor sperm in order to pursue both IUI and IVF.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

IUI using donor sperm is the simplest way for female same-sex couples to try to have a baby. The partner who is going to provide the egg and carry the baby will be monitored and when she ovulates, a small volume of concentrated semen (that has been processed by the clinic) is injected directly into the uterus. Sometimes ovulation will be stimulated or controlled with fertility medications.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Lesbian couples may also choose to use in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a baby. This may be the preferred method if one partner wants to donate the egg while the other wants to carry the pregnancy. This is called reciprocal IVF or egg sharing. IVF may also be preferred if there are fertility issues with either partner.

In IVF, ovulation is stimulated with fertility drugs so that multiple eggs are matured during one menstrual cycle. The eggs are retrieved during an out-patient procedure and then treated and combined with sperm in a lab. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the uterus of the partner who will carry the pregnancy.

Fertility Options for Male Same-Sex Parents

Male same-sex parents need both a donor egg and a gestational carrier or surrogate to have a baby through fertility treatments.

In Vitro Fertilization with Gestational Surrogacy and Egg Donation

The most common fertility option for same-sex parents who are both males is in vitro fertilization (IVF) with a surrogate or gestational carrier. Generally, one partner will provide the sperm and the couple will get a donor egg to fertilize. Then they choose a gestational carrier or surrogate to carry and give birth to the baby.

Gay male couples pursuing IVF to have a baby will need to consider the following:

  • Egg Donor: Male same-sex parents will need to get a donor egg in order to do IVF. Some people get a donor egg from a loved one. Other people use a donor egg service or program.
  • Sperm Donor: While most gay couples will use one partner’s sperm, sometimes they also need donor sperm. For instance, there may be health issues that prevent both partners from using their own sperm. 
  • Surrogate or Gestational Carrier: The other important part of this scenario is finding someone to carry and give birth to the baby. Usually, this person is a gestational carrier (GC) rather than a traditional surrogate. While some people use the terms interchangeably, gestational carriers and surrogates are different. 
    • Traditional surrogates provide their own egg for fertilization (usually via intrauterine insemination) with one of the intended father’s sperm. Because the egg belongs to the surrogate mother, she will be genetically related to any resulting children. This is not a common practice anymore because there are emotional and legal complications. 
    • Gestational carriers or gestational surrogates do not provide the donor egg. The sperm and egg are provided by the intended parents or donors. After the egg is retrieved and fertilized by the sperm, the embryos are transferred to the gestational carrier’s uterus. The GC then carries and gives birth to the baby.

Finding Donors or Gestational Carriers

Same-sex couples who want parents can get donor eggs or sperm in a couple of different ways. Some people choose to ask a friend or family member to donate eggs or sperm. Others choose to use a service or program provided by a fertility center. Carolinas Fertility Institute has an egg donor program for couples looking to receive donor eggs as well as women who are looking to donate eggs

There are also services that can help same-sex parents find a gestational carrier. Whichever method a couple chooses, it’s important that they get a lawyer experienced in assisted reproduction to help iron out the legal and financial details.

Talk to A Fertility Expert

If you have any questions about fertility options for same-sex parents, reach out to Carolinas Fertility Institute today. We offer a wide variety of services, from fertility evaluations to In Vitro fertilization. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation by calling our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.

How PCOS and Infertility are Connected

September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month, which is the perfect opportunity to explore the condition and how it affects fertility. Women who have PCOS often try many different treatments and lifestyle changes to help manage their symptoms. But when those women want to get pregnant, they may have to re-evaluate their treatment options.… Continue Reading

Should You Get Preconception Counseling?

Whether or not you struggle with fertility, you need to make sure you are ready for pregnancy before you start trying to get pregnant. That’s where preconception counseling comes in. Preconception or prepregnancy care is geared toward ensuring that both you and your baby are as healthy as possible when you conceive. What is Preconception… Continue Reading

What is Advanced Maternal Age?

It’s not uncommon to have heard of a woman’s window to conceive being compared to a ticking clock. With this topic comes the discussion of geriatric pregnancies and advanced maternal age. But what exactly constitutes “advanced maternal age”? As the age of first-time mothers continues to rise year after year, the answer may seem younger… Continue Reading

Fibroids and Infertility: Are They Linked?

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), fibroids are found in 20% of women of reproductive age. But do fibroids affect your fertility? For Fibroid Awareness Month this July, we are looking at how fibroids and infertility may be linked. What are Fibroids? Uterine fibroids are benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow in or… Continue Reading

5 Guidelines for Exercise and Fertility Treatments

If you’ve been trying to conceive, you have probably heard and read about how beneficial staying active is for your fertility. And it is true that getting regular exercise can help with fertility in a variety of ways. It helps with weight management, hormone balance, circulation, and metabolism. So it might come as a surprise… Continue Reading

How Men’s Health and Fertility are Linked

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month and the week before Father’s Day is National Men’s Health Week. The goal of these campaigns is to remind men to take steps to be healthier. Men’s health and fertility may be linked in several ways. Overall health can have an impact on fertility for both men and women,… Continue Reading

What are the Risks and Side Effects of IVF?

Fertility treatments are generally very safe, but all medical procedures carry some risk of potential side effects. The side effects of IVF may include reactions to the hormonal fertility medications taken during the preparation for egg retrieval. There is also a small risk of rare complications during egg retrieval and embryo transfer procedures.  Your fertility… Continue Reading

Filed Under: IVF

Translating Common Infertility Terms & Acronyms

If you are just starting on your fertility journey, you might notice that there are a lot of words and abbreviations you are unfamiliar with. It’s like a foreign language! Your fertility specialist should always explain things clearly, but it’s useful to know what certain infertility terms and acronyms mean. Basic Infertility Terms These basic… Continue Reading