Family Building 101 | Reproduction Basics

Most people who come to GayParentsToBe, in partnership with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), are initially unfamiliar with many of the terms related to fertility treatment and third party parenting. To make sure that you are making informed decisions every step of the way, it is important for you to be familiar the most common important terms related to your care. Here are a few basic terms you should know:

What is a Reproductive Endocrinologist?

A board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI) is a fertility specialist, who after completing a residency program, applies through a highly competitive system to receive additional training in Reproductive Endocrinology. This is referred to as a fellowship and includes a 3 year intensive training program, which focuses on understanding the complexities of the human female reproductive system.

Reproductive Endocrinologists undergo rigorous testing and if pass, receive board certification by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

An REI specializes in the following fields of study:

  • Tubal factor infertility
  • Male factor infertility
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Fertility preservation
  • Other disorders of the female reproductive tract, including endometriosis, PCOS, Pituitary dysfunction and uterine abnormalities

What is Egg Retrieval?

In IVF, egg retrieval is the process where eggs (oocytes) are retrieved through a minimally-invasive surgical procedure.

What is Embryo Transfer?

The process in which an embryo is placed into the uterus to achieve a pregnancy.

What is an Intended Parent(s)?

The person or people who will be legally responsible for caring for and raising a child, regardless of who has given birth to the child, (And regardless of whether they have a genetic link to the child.)

What is IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

In IVF, a woman’s ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple follicles and produce multiple eggs. The eggs are then retrieved and mixed with sperm in a laboratory to create multiple embryos. One or more embryos can then be transferred to a woman’s uterus to achieve a pregnancy.

What is PGS?

Preimplantation genetic screening is when embryos are screened to determine which chromosomes are structurally normal and give the best chance for proper implantation. Missing or additional numbers of chromosomes can result in miscarriages and implantation failure.

What is PGD?

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is when an embryo is tested for single gene defects to prevent spread of genetic diseases.

For Gay Men

What is a Surrogate? (Gestational Carrier)

A surrogate or a gestational carrier is a woman who carries a baby to term for another person or couple. This is an option used by many gay men and also for individuals or couples where a woman is not able to carry a pregnancy to term. The term surrogate traditionally had referred to a woman who both carried the baby and who was also the egg donor. However today it is most common to use a gestational carrier who is not biologically tied to the child by using a separate egg donor.

For Lesbians

What is Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) (Artificial Insemination)?

IUI is a technique that transfers sperm directly in to the uterus. It bypasses the vaginal and cervical defense mechanisms of the female reproductive tract and allows better sperm delivery to the fallopian tubes. This allows the sperm and egg to interact in close proximity. It is a very common treatment for mild and moderate deficits in the semen analysis. IUI is typically used in conjunction with medications that increase the number of eggs per cycle and triggering of ovulation. The goal is to have more targets for the sperm (eggs), perfect timing and better sperm delivery.

What is Reciprocal IVF?

With reciprocal in vitro fertilization, one woman donates her eggs to her partner, and her partner carries the pregnancy. For female couples this is a way that both can participate in the process of bringing a child into their home. One woman donates eggs and goes through superovulation with fertility medicines to produce multiple eggs and undergoes egg retrieval. After egg retrieval eggs are combined with the designated donor sperm in the IVF laboratory. Her partner who is choosing to become pregnant, goes on medication to prepare her uterus. Then when the timing is optimal 1-2 embryos are transferred into her uterus.

What is a Sperm Donor?

This is a man who donates sperm. RMACT does not operate its own sperm bank, but is able to refer patients to an FDA-registered and compliant sperm bank to select a sperm donor who meets their needs.