Families come in all sizes and shapes, and, through the years, the word’s definition has changed to be more inclusive. Nowadays, family not only refers to units with a father, a mother, and their adopted/biological children, but also those with two dads, two moms, a nonbinary couple, or a single parent and they’re adopted/biological children.
At Joy of Life® Surrogacy, we embrace and support all kinds of families. Especially for LGBTQ+ couples who want to have kids, we are here to inform and educate them so that they know how to get started and can get the support that they need throughout the journey to starting their own families.
When discussions about having babies and kids happen in LGBTQ+ relationships, one of the most crucial topics that need to be discussed is infertility. Below, we take a look at how this condition affects the LGBTQ+ community and how to best address it and not make it a hindrance to LGBTQ+ partners starting and growing their own big happy families.
What Is Infertility?
Infertility is a condition defined as the inability to conceive after at least one year of trying. In women, fertility declines with age, so examination and treatment are recommended once they reach the age of 35 or if they have been trying to get pregnant or conceive for at least six months to no avail. In men, infertility may be caused by low sperm count or poor sperm function caused by genetic defects, illnesses, infections, injuries, lifestyle choices, and others. It can be diagnosed by going through a general physical exam, semen analysis, hormone testing, and other tests.
How Is Infertility for LGBTQ+ Couples Different From Heterosexual Couples?
For a lot of LGBTQ+ couples, building their own families is hard not because one or both partners have been diagnosed by their doctor as infertile but because they require an egg or sperm donor to make it happen. In fact, even if both partners have perfectly functioning reproductive systems, biological family building, in their case, calls for some extra steps that most heterosexual couples do not need to go through. So, to account for their situations, the term “social infertility” is used.
What Fertility Options Are There for LGBTQ+ Couples?
Nowadays, there are many different ways for same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ partners to make their dreams of having children possible. With the help of modern technology, medical professionals, and LGBTQ+ allies, they can look forward to raising children and starting a family of their own.
Below are some options that they can consider:
Sperm donation refers to the process of collecting sperm to be used in artificial insemination or some other fertility treatment. Men who want to donate sperm have to meet certain criteria, such as having no history of having certain diseases in their family and not being intravenous drug users. They must pass a strict screening process that involves answering questionnaires, doing interviews, and undergoing medical evaluations and tests to be accepted.
If qualified, they start the donation process by donating a semen sample. The sample is stored in a sterile container and frozen until the time it is needed to be used.
Egg donation refers to the process of collecting eggs to be used by others to have a baby. Women who want to donate eggs must also meet certain criteria. In general, they need to be between 21 and 35 years old. They must be free of hepatitis C, HIV, and other infections. They also should not be at high risk of genetic diseases. They should be able to submit their detailed family medical histories too. And, like sperm donors, they go through a rigorous screening process that includes interviews, physical exams, drug tests, blood tests, and other procedures.
If qualified, they start the donation process by taking fertility drugs to stimulate the production of multiple egg cells in their ovaries. Once the eggs are ready to be retrieved, they go through what is called a transvaginal ovarian aspiration where the eggs are removed from the follicles by inserting an ultrasound probe and a needle into the vagina. The unfertilized eggs are then preserved by freezing and storing them until the time to use them comes.
In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization or IVF refers to the process of fertilizing an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish. It is a well-known assisted reproductive technology or ART method used by those who have fertility issues and require assistance to conceive. It can be done by using the couple’s own sperm and egg, or having an egg donor, a sperm donor, or both. To prepare for IVF, a series of screenings and tests, including ovarian reserve testing, semen analysis, uterine exam, infectious disease screening, and practice embryo transfer, is conducted.
If all is well, the next steps are egg retrieval, semen retrieval, and fertilization. Once the embryo or embryos are ready, they are put in a syringe and attached to a catheter that is inserted into the vagina. They pass through the long and narrow tube and are transferred into the uterus to grow and develop.
Surrogacy refers to the arrangement where a woman, who is called a surrogate, agrees to carry and give birth to a baby on behalf of other people, who are called intended parents. Depending on where the intended parents and the surrogate live, surrogacy pregnancy arrangements, processes, and laws may vary. However, regardless of wherever they are in the world, it is no doubt a legally, medically, financially, and emotionally complex process.
There are two types of surrogacy. There is what’s referred to as traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the intended father, and gestational surrogacy, in which the egg of the intended mother or a donor is fertilized by the sperm of the intended father or a donor and the embryo is then placed into the uterus of the surrogate. Traditional surrogacy pregnancy results in a baby that has genetic ties to the surrogate, while gestational surrogacy does not.
How Do You Choose the Best Fertility Option for You and Your Partner?
These days, there are many resources available for and accessible to LGBTQ+ couples who want to have children. At Joy of Life® Surrogacy, we are ready to help and support you all throughout your journey. We can be like your own internet search engine that provides you with the exact information that you need for your queries. Whether you are wondering, “How much does surrogate mother cost?” or “Where can I get IVF near me?” we can answer your questions with compassion, empathy, and understanding. By working with us, your search for answers to important questions, such as “How much does a surrogate mother cost?” or “Where can I get IVF near me?” doesn’t require you to jump from one website to another trying to figure out which information is accurate. We can offer you clear and detailed explanations to help you and your partner make an informed decision about what’s best for you and be by your side from the start until the end of your family-building journey.