Transgender transitioning often involves the physical alteration of one’s sex using hormones. It may also involve the physical alteration of the genitals through gender reassignment surgery. Transgender men and women considering this physical transitioning should be counseled on their reproductive options.
A qualified physician will take the time to listen to a transgender patient’s desires relating to building a family in the near or distant future. The doctor can then explain the patient’s options for preserving his or her fertility.
Gender-affirming hormones and sex reassignment surgeries clearly have an effect on an individual’s ability to have biological children. At Women & Infants Fertility Center, we offer a number of fertility preservation treatments for transgender men and women who wish to preserve their reproductive options before they transition.
If a transgender patient has started receiving hormones in order to transition, fertility preservation and treatment may still be possible. This usually involves a discontinuation of hormone treatment. Each case requires evaluation by a trained reproductive endocrinologist.
We offer oocyte preservation for transgender men.
An oocyte is an immature, unfertilized egg produced by the ovaries that develops into an egg (ovum). Under normal circumstances, the ovaries only produce one egg per month as part of the menstrual cycle.
In order to retrieve a maximal number of eggs for preservation, the transgender man wishing to freeze his eggs will first receive ovulation induction hormones that stimulate the ovaries to produce many eggs at one time.
After receiving hormones for 10 to 12 days, the eggs are collected via a brief surgical procedure and then frozen and stored (cryopreservation). The thawed eggs can later be fertilized with sperm using in vitro fertilization (IVF).
A transgender woman can freeze her sperm prior to transitioning. In most cases, sperm is collected either at home or at a clinic through masturbation. Less commonly, surgery is required to retrieve the sperm.
Cryopreservation preserves and stores sperm for an indefinite amount of time. This allows a transgender woman a chance to have biological children for years to come, using her sperm to fertilize her partner’s egg or a donated egg. This can occur even after she transitions, though her sex reassignment surgery will not allow her to carry a pregnancy.
Embryo freezing is an option for both transgender men and transgender women. It is sometimes pursued by couples who wish to preserve their fertility options before one member begins transitioning.
Embryo freezing occurs after IVF, a process in which a man’s sperm is used to fertilize a woman’s eggs in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are then frozen and stored for future implantation.
Women & Infants recognizes the distinct challenges and obstacles involved in building a family as an LGBT couple or individual. These challenges may extend well beyond physical and biological barriers. In addition to fertility treatment options such as surrogacy and egg and sperm donation, we coordinate with a team of professionals who provide legal and emotional counseling for transgender fertility patients.