Fertility Treatment for Same Sex Couples and Transitioning Individuals

Patricia Lambert

Posted by Patricia Lambert

11 May 2018

 

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Same sex couples have a wide variety of fertility treatments available to them, all of which can help with achieving their dream of having a family in one way or another. Some of these include:

Sperm donors for lesbian couples – The majority of female same sex couples will not have any fertility issues and will only be in need of donor sperm. Often this can come from a male friend , but fertility clinics can always offer anonymous sperm donor programmes to help with conception. Recent changes in the law regarding donor anonymity have meant that donor numbers have dropped significantly but there is still a large bank of frozen sperm available in clinics across the UK and many donors are still coming forward.

DI (Donor insemination) / IUI for lesbian couples – Intra-uterine insemination involves taking donor sperm, either from a known donor or from a network of anonymous donors, and placing it inside the uterus at the time of a woman’s ovulation. This is done in the hope that the chances of fertilisation and successful pregnancy are as high as possible.

DI IVF/ICSI for lesbian couples with low fertility – as with anybody, suffering with fertility problems can be a stumbling block on the path to building a family. IVF/ICSI, in conjunction with sperm from a donor, can offer women who are part of a same sex couple the opportunity to overcome their fertility concerns and achieve a successful pregnancy. DI IVF/ICSI is similar to DI IUI, in that donor sperm will be used to fertilise the egg. However, if the woman has issues with her own fertility, eggs will be extracted and fertilisation will take place within a laboratory incubator before placing an embryo back inside the uterus where it will hopefully develop into a foetus. For women with more severe fertility concerns, the use of a donor egg is also possible. For more information on egg donors follow this link to our website.

 

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Surrogacy

Surrogacy is a popular option for gay men who want to be biologically connected to their children, as well as for lesbian couples who are unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy on their own. While many people find a friend or even a family member to carry their child for them as a surrogate, many women make the noble decision to become surrogates and help strangers to achieve their dreams of having a baby.

Depending on the surrogacy arrangement that is agreed upon, some same sex couples can be as involved in the pregnancy as they wish, with regular check-ups, visits to the hospital with their surrogate and attending the birth of their child.

If you wish to find out more about Surrogacy in the UK, follow these links for more information:

https://www.surrogacyuk.org/

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/parenting-rights/surrogacy-1

Sperm analysis and extraction for gay men who wish to pursue surrogacy with their own sperm but have issues with low mobility or low sperm count – According to recent reports, the number of men suffering with a low sperm count has almost doubled in recent years. For gay men this could mean that even if they are able to secure a surrogate, their own low fertility may prevent them from being able to use their sperm in the creation of the child to be carried by the surrogate. Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre we have a state-of-the-art Andrology laboratory with staff highly trained in the analysis and treatment of male fertility concerns. Semen analysis is arguably more important for gay men as they will not have the same symptoms (inability to conceive with a female partner) as heterosexual men will.

Donating Sperm – If you are part of a male same sex couple, you are unlikely to be in need of donor sperm but you could still take the altruistic step to ensure that other couples are able to realise their own dreams of having a family. As mentioned above, donor numbers in the UK have diminished and many clinics are on the lookout for new donors to sign up and take the amazing step to help.

Since 2005, the law in the UK has enabled children born as a result of donated sperm or eggs to be given contact information about the donor on their 18th birthday. Ethically, of course this is a great step towards ensuring that children born as a result of donor sperm or eggs can feel a deep understanding of their biological origins. However, it has meant that many men and women now feel uncomfortable with donating their genetic material.

Whilst this is entirely understandable, we are keen to stress that the positives far outweigh whatever negatives may be involved in the donor process. To give somebody – even perhaps a stranger – the ability to overcome the deep anxiety and sorrow that accompanies fertility issues and achieve their dream of having a family is an act of admirable courage, empathy and compassion. We believe there can be so much satisfaction derived from knowing you have helped multiple people - who at one time were so bereft of hope - to overcome those anxieties and live life as part of a happy, complete family.

Transitioning individuals

If you are an individual undergoing transition from male to female or female to male, one thing you may not have considered is the effect that such a process can have on your fertility.

The hormone affecting drugs that you will be taking whilst undergoing transition can damage your fertility long term. It is for this reason many individuals take steps to ensure their fertility is preserved. This can be done via egg or sperm freezing.

A cryopreservation lab can take your sperm or eggs before you transition and hold them safely in specialised freezing vessels for up to 55 years ensuring that - if and when you are ready - you will have the power to choose the time and manner in which you will be building your own family.

Egg/sperm freezing also offers you the ability to have a child that shares your genetic traits. While adoption and fostering gives many people the opportunity to raise a child and feel part of a complete family, fertility preservation gives you the opportunity to have a child that will inherit your traits, your smile, your eye and hair colour, your physical characteristics. For more information on this, follow this link to our website.

For more information on the options and legal rights for transitioning individuals pursuing fertility treatment and child raising, follow these links:

HFEA

https://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk

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Patricia Lambert

Author: Patricia Lambert

Patricia has been a fully qualified counsellor for several years and her practice is based on the person centred and integrative approach.
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