There’s no better feeling than helping a couple have a baby. The joy in their eyes when they’re finally holding a healthy, happy baby can’t be topped. When same-sex couples visit our office, they are excited to hear about their options for becoming pregnant. At the Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, there are five ways we help these couples start their family.
1. Egg Donor and Surrogate
When a gay couple wants to have a baby, they need both an egg donor and a surrogate. The donated eggs are fertilized with one partner’s or both partners’ sperm, and then implanted into the surrogate, who carries the baby to birth.
There are two options for the egg donor: the couple can choose a woman they know or use an egg donor registry to choose an anonymous donor. Before the eggs are retrieved, the donors are screened to make sure they don’t have any diseases or illnesses that can be passed to the baby. Once the egg donor is chosen, the couple also needs to find a surrogate. The donor and surrogate can be the woman, but typically, a third-party surrogate is the most common choice. The surrogate is also screened to make sure she is healthy enough to carry the baby without any issues or complications.
2. Artificial Insemination
Lesbian couples have two options when it comes to getting pregnant; the first is artificial insemination. The couple needs a sperm donor to fertilize the egg. This person can be someone the couple knows or it can be an anonymous donor chosen from a sperm bank. The donor is screened to eliminate the chance of communicable diseases that may affect the pregnancy or baby’s health.
Once the couple has a sperm donor, we can perform the artificial insemination. While this process is relatively simple and inexpensive, it has the same likelihood of achieving pregnancy as intercourse, and may take a few months for a viable pregnancy to occur.
In vitro fertilization (IVF), the second option lesbian couples have to get pregnant, offers a high chance of pregnancy with the first attempt. The process begins the same as artificial insemination—the couple must choose a sperm donor to fertilize the egg. The donor is closely examined to make sure he is healthy and free from any communicable diseases.
IVF is unique in that it allows both women to participate in the pregnancy. One partner can donate the egg (making her the genetic mother), and the other woman, the birth mother, carries and births the baby. We’ve helped many women start their families using this procedure, and they switch roles for their second child; so both partners have the chance to experience carrying a baby. And when the children are conceived by the same donor, the babies are genetically siblings, just with different birth mothers.
4. Advice and Support
While we can’t offer our couples actual legal advice, we can offer them resources and guidance during their pregnancy and at the time of delivery. We are very upfront with what to expect (costs, tests, procedures, etc.) and answer all their questions before beginning their journey of having children.
5. Warm, Welcoming Environment
No matter what procedure a couple needs to have a baby, we are thrilled to help them start their family. Our entire staff is accepting, warm, and compassionate. And once a couple is pregnant, we can refer them to doctors and OB/GYNs who are also very helpful and supportive during the rest of their pregnancy.
We welcome the chance to help same-sex couples start their families. There are many different ways for a couple to get pregnant, and it’s our job to make sure they are able to have a healthy, happy baby. Contact the Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, by visiting us online or calling us at 520-326-0001 to schedule your appointment today.