LGBTQ Family Planning

LGBTQ family planning at a glance

  • Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) couples and individuals use fertility treatments to assist in building their families.
  • LGBTQ family planning usually involves third-party reproduction help in the form of donated eggs, embryos and/or sperm, and in the case of gay male couples, the use of a surrogate or gestational carrier to carry the pregnancy.
  • LGBTQ individuals and couples can also experience infertility issues that require fertility treatment.
  • Women & Infants Fertility Center provides all the services LGBTQ couples or individuals need in their journey to become parents, including legal and emotional counseling from professionals who focus on third-party reproductive issues.

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Factors in LGBTQ family planning

Women & Infants Fertility Center recognizes that LGBT couples face particular hurdles, both social and physical, when building a family. We provide highly successful third-party reproduction treatments for LGBTQ couples and individuals, and we only work with the most reputable agencies in helping arrange for egg donation, embryo donation, sperm donation and surrogates.

Through our affiliation with Women & Infants Hospital, we also provide support for our LGBTQ patients. This is a vital element in third-party reproduction family building, as prospective same-sex parents or other LGBTQ patients often face complicated issues involving the genetic nature of parenthood and subsequent arrangements with those who have provided third-party reproductive assistance.

While most LGBTQ couples do not seek fertility treatments specifically for infertility, a health condition affecting the fertility of one or both partners may be an additional factor when building a family. When appropriate, we will screen for infertility at the start of treatment. The results of those tests will determine what treatments the LGBTQ couple or individual may need, including possible forms of third-party reproductive assistance.

Related reading: LGBTQ Parenthood Can Be a Journey of Self-Discovery

Third-party reproductive assistance for LGBTQ family planning

Same-sex couples or other LGBTQ individuals without a partner who would like to start or expand a family require certain fertility treatments that will result in a pregnancy.

Female same-sex couples and individuals will typically need donor sperm in order for one of the partners to get pregnant through artificial insemination. Male same-sex couples and individuals will typically need donated female eggs to fertilize with one partner’s sperm through in vitro fertilization (IVF), as well as a surrogate to carry and deliver the child.

Related reading: How Sandra & Meredith found success with donor sperm and IUI

Some LGBTQ couples may require a mix of such services. For instance in some circumstances, lesbian couples may need a sperm donor and a gestational carrier. Our fertility specialists will explore all options for our LGBTQ patients seeking a family. These options are addressed below.

Egg donation

Egg donation is when one woman donates her eggs to an LGBTQ couple or individual in order for them to become pregnant. The receiving couple or individual first identifies a suitable egg donor, often through an agency providing anonymous donors, or the egg(s) can be donated by a friend or family member.

The eggs are retrieved and fertilized through IVF using the male recipient’s sperm (or that of a sperm donor). The resulting embryo is transferred to the womb of the recipient mother or a gestational carrier (surrogate) for pregnancy.

Embryo donation is a variation of egg donation, but involves an embryo created by another couple during IVF that is donated to an LGBTQ couple or individual to attain pregnancy. The resulting child would have the genes of the woman who provided the egg and the genes of the man who provided the sperm.

Both egg donors and egg recipients must undergo detailed medical and psychological evaluations and tests. These are described in detail at the links below.

Sperm donation

Sperm donation involves a man donating his sperm to an LGBTQ couple or individual. A fertility physician can place the donated sperm into the recipient woman’s uterus with intrauterine insemination (IUI).

The donated sperm can also be combined with a woman’s egg (or donor eggs) in a lab during IVF, creating an embryo that will later be transferred to the recipient woman’s uterus.

Facts and Considerations of Sperm Donation

Gestational carrier (surrogacy)

Surrogacy involves a third-party female agreeing to become pregnant and carry a child for an LGBTQ couple or individual. The two types of surrogacy are gestational carrier surrogacy and traditional surrogacy.

Gestational carrier surrogacy involves the surrogate mother being implanted with an embryo created through IVF with the recipient LGBTQ parents’ sperm and eggs (or donor sperm and/or eggs). A child born by a gestational carrier can have the genes of at least one partner/intended parent and is not genetically related to the surrogate mother.

Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate mother becomes pregnant through artificial insemination or possibly IVF using her own eggs. The resulting child would have her genes and the genes of the intended father (or sperm donor). However, this form of surrogacy is rarely used. A gestational carrier is typically used so the child is not genetically related to the woman carrying the pregnancy.

Surrogacy involves legal and emotional complexities that both the intended parents and the surrogate must address beforehand and in detail. Our fertility specialists can assist our LGBTQ patients obtain the counseling services they need.

Is Surrogacy Right For You?

Related reading: Rhode Island’s 2021 Family Law Expands LGBTQ Parenting Rights

Women & Infants Fertility Center works closely with the Obstetrics and Gynecology Care Center (OGCC) at Women & Infants Hospital. The OGCC team provides a wide range of women’s health services for lesbian and transgender patients. They place a particular emphasis on transgender care including hysterectomies, contraception, pap smear screening and other related services. Additionally, OGCC offers comprehensive pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care.

Contact us at (401) 441-5336 or by using one of the links below to learn more about our LGBTQ family planning options and the OGCC at Women & Infants Hospital.

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