IVF for LGBTQ couples is not allowed by all countries but some places are liberal and they allow same-sex partners and transgender people to have children and build a family. Depending upon your unique circumstances and preferences, there are various options for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer couples to pursue a pregnancy and have a baby.
If you’re interested in IVF for LGBTQ couples for yourself or someone you know, the below information will be useful:
How to get started?
Consultation and treatment discussion: The first step is always a brief discussion or consultation to understand if you’ll make the right candidate for IVF or any other ART treatment and given your unique situation, what possible treatment options do you have.
Fertility evaluation and diagnostic testing: You can get the basic fertility investigations before setting up a consultation with the doctor to save time and extra visits. Your doctor will ask to see certain hormone values, or in case of men, a semen analysis report, to understand your situation.
In some cases, certain specific diagnostic tests are also required before formulating a proper treatment plan.
Reproductive options for Lesbian couples
IUI with donor sperm
Artificial insemination with donor sperm is the cheapest, least invasive option for single females and lesbian couples but not many clinics suggest this option and go straight to IVF. Unless you have definite medical reasons to qualify for IVF or you don’t want the partner providing the eggs to also carry the baby, there is no reason to not try IUI before IVF.
The success rates of IUI are lower (only around 15%) as compared to those of IVF (around 50%) but its cost is also significantly lower.
IUI is a simple procedure that is done easily at 10-20% of the cost of IVF, so if you want to take a chance with that first, make sure you clearly mention it to your doctor.
Reciprocal IVF is the arrangement in which one partner of a lesbian couple provides the eggs, while the other one carries the pregnancy. The eggs are fertilized with donor sperm and this way, both the female partners get to have some connection with the offspring.
Conventional IVF with donor sperm
During the standard IVF procedure, your ovaries are stimulated to mature more eggs and they are then extracted and fertilized with your partner’s sperm. The resultant embryo is then transferred back to your womb.
For lesbian couples, this is carried out in the same manner expect the eggs (from one or both the partners) are fertilized with the sperm of their selected donor.
Reproductive options for Gay Male couples
Donor egg IVF and surrogacy
For male-male couples, things a re slightly more complex as they need third party help to carry the pregnancy. While many countries allow IVF for single women and lesbian couples, they do not allow the same for men.
However, there are some destinations where single men and gay male couples can commission for IVF and surrogacy.
While either of the two partners can provide their sperm, they will need to hire an egg donor to provide the eggs and a surrogate to carry the pregnancy.
Surrogacy is a long and expensive arrangement. You family members can also act as surrogates as long as they are healthy and have the doctor’s medical approval.
Reproductive options for Transgender couples
Transgender individuals and couples can get fertility preservation with egg freezing and sperm freezing, prior to or post-transition.
If you have frozen eggs, sperm or embryos before undergoing hormone therapy or surgery, you will be able to conceive with the help of IVF in future. Fertility treatment options for trans individuals include intra-uterine insemination (IUI), IVF with self-gametes, donor eggs or donor sperm, and if required, surrogacy.
Once the fertility treatment has been started, your hormone replacement therapy may have to be temporarily suspended so there is no conflict with the hormones being given during reproductive treatment.
IVF for LGBTQ couples is allowed in only some regions of the world. If you’re interested, please check your local laws regarding babies for LGBTQ couples and get in touch for consultations and further steps for your reproductive solutions and family goals.
Cheng, P. J., Pastuszak, A. W., Myers, J. B., Goodwin, I. A., & Hotaling, J. M. (2019). Fertility concerns of the transgender patient. Translational andrology and urology, 8(3), 209–218. https://doi.org/10.21037/tau.2019.05.09