Family Building for Lesbian Couples & Individuals

There are many ways that you can build a family. The Fertility Institute has been helping women build families together for many years through several fertility treatments and with donor sperm and eggs. At The Fertility Institute, we create personalized treatment plans that are unique for each patient. Your family-building treatment plan is designed based on your and your partner’s individual preferences, family-building goals, and fertility needs.

In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an option for all couples, whether you struggle with infertility or not. It’s important to understand that IVF is a commitment, physically, emotionally, and financially. Our fertility specialists can provide counseling and resources needed to make a whole-body decision. 

IVF begins with ovarian stimulation via hormone medication. When the follicles are mature, you’ll take a “trigger shot,” which triggers the release of the eggs from the ovaries. Your fertility specialist will then retrieve the mature eggs during a minimally invasive procedure called egg retrieval, and our highly trained embryologists will fertilize them with donor sperm in our IVF lab. After monitoring the development of embryos for five days, the 5-day embryo will be transferred to the uterus for hopeful implantation and pregnancy. 

IVF Process

Reciprocal IVF

Another treatment option we offer to lesbian couples is reciprocal IVF, which allows both partners to contribute to the process. During the procedure, one partner undergoes controlled ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval; the egg is then fertilized in the lab with donor sperm, and the resulting embryo is implanted into the other partner’s uterus to carry the pregnancy.

Both partners use medication to synchronize their menstrual cycles. Then, as one partner undergoes the ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval process, the other uses medication to prime her uterus to accept the embryo. There is also an option to freeze the embryos for transfer to the uterus later if you and your partner are not quite ready for children yet but would like to undergo IVF in the future or if you would like to have more than one genetically related child using the same sperm donor.

Intrauterine Insemination

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a less time-consuming and invasive option than IVF. Unlike reciprocal IVF, during the IUI process, the same partner will contribute her eggs as well as carry the pregnancy in her uterus. For IUI, you will take medication that begins ovulation to stimulate ovarian follicles. On the day of insemination, sperm will be taken from the donor and washed to separate a highly concentrated sample. The sperm sample will then be inserted into your or your partner’s uterus using a flexible catheter.

IUI Process

Using a Sperm Donor

For same-sex female couples, utilizing donor sperm will be a necessary component to have children. There are two common ways to get a sperm donor: through a third-party sperm bank or working directly with a sperm donor. This is called directed sperm donation. The Fertility Institute does not use directed sperm donation.

Sperm Donor Considerations

Finding a sperm donor is an important part of the family-building process. There are many factors to consider. Your fertility specialist will help to provide reputable and trusted donor sperm banks for you to work with. We will also help to determine what questions may be important for you or your partner’s fertility treatment.

Some questions partners and individuals should ask themselves and discuss together include:

  • What if the preferred sperm donor is a carrier for the same genetic disease(s) as the intended parents?
  • Do you or your partner want to be able to select certain characteristics or attributes, such as ethnicity, height, education, and other criteria?
  • If you want more children at a later time, would you or your partner prefer those children to have the same sperm donor? If so, additional semen specimens may need to be frozen and stored for later use.
  • How and when will you or your partner explain to the child, friends, and family about the child’s parentage? This question can be a challenging one and we have counselors who can help to provide resources and support as you contemplate how you would like to handle this.
  • What treatment plan has our doctor advised for you or your partner, IUI or IVF? That could determine the type of sperm specimen needed for optimal fertilization.

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