There are three routes to pregnancy for lesbians: artificial insemination, IVF using your own eggs and uterus, or IVF using your partner’s eggs but your uterus.
Success rates vary based on individual circumstances. An important part of the journey is choosing a sperm donor. There are many options when choosing a sperm donor, and we recommend you meet with an experienced reproductive mental health professional to assist you in your decision. Overall, success rates remain very high for women under the age of 40. However, age is a significant factor for determining your success.
Our board-certified reproductive endocrinologists will help assure you that your pathway to pregnancy is successful, safe and time-efficient. See below a more in depth look at your options.
Good luck in your family building journey, take the time to get educated and stay hopeful!
Artificial insemination (AI) is a process that is used to place sperm into a woman’s reproductive tract using means other than sexual intercourse. The procedure involves concentrating semen into a small volume and placing it into the uterus (intrauterine insemination, or IUI) or the cervix (intracervical insemination, or ICI).
In order to begin artificial insemination, you need to see your primary care physician. Be sure to be up-to-date on all health care maintenance, including Pap smear, and mammogram if recommended. It is important to track your cycle each month as you must also have a regular menstrual cycle to complete a natural cycle insemination with success. This cycle tracking is how insemination is timed.
We can help, if needed, with the search for a sperm donor. A known donor can be a family member or friend, but requires careful consideration and consultation with an attorney. An attorney will protect parental rights and be sure that all adults are invested in the emotional development of the baby. An anonymous donor can be found through a sperm bank. As the name implies, parents do not know the donor, including name or medical history. However, recipients can choose a sperm donor based on characteristics such as family history, race, academic achievements, looks and other factors. This is considered the safest way to choose a donor, as these donors have been screened for infectious diseases, genetic risk factors and have been counseled on their release of parental rights.
Many sperm banks offer a known sperm donor option. This is a sperm donor who is willing to be known to the parents and child,and has been screened by the sperm bank. Frozen sperm is shipped to your physician, and is thawed the day of insemination.
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process that involves stimulating ovaries to develop multiple eggs. This is achieved with injectable medications. To move forward with IVF, you should see a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist. The doctor will complete a panel of pre-pregnancy tests for screening, genetics and infectious diseases. The goal of IVF is to produce a large number of growing follicles, then to retrieve the eggs from inside the follicles through a short surgical procedure performed in the office. The eggs are then inseminated with designated donor sperm in the laboratory to create embryos that can then be transferred to the endometrial cavity (the uterus) of the recipient. To complete IVF using one person’s egg and uterus, the same screening listed above is required to continue with the process.
Over 5 million children have been born from in vitro fertilization. IVF is considered safe for women, and one of the most successful fertility treatment options available. IVF stimulation requires injectable medication, and also a procedure known as an egg retrieval under sedation.
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 the egg and goes through super ovulation with fertility medicines, producing multiple eggs for 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.
The embryo transfer should occur on a set day under a controlled condition, and is a 15′ low risk, very little discomfort procedure. Success rates with reciprocal IVF vary with the age of the women. If successful, women are discharged to their OB-GYN in about six weeks.