Information and support to improve your chances of becoming a parent
For LGBTQ people, the route to parenthood is not straightforward. The good news, however, is that it’s significantly easier than it was even 20 years ago. Whether you’re trying to conceive a biologically linked child, or you’d like to adopt, there are various possibilities when you’re starting a family.
Of course, your LGBTQ fertility options will depend very much upon the make-up of your relationship.
Gay men who want a child with a biological link to them can achieve this through surrogacy. One of them will contribute their sperm, which will be used to fertilise a donated egg or eggs, with the resulting embryo then transferred to the surrogate. In most cases, the surrogate will not also be the egg donor, so that the child they’re carrying isn’t their biological offspring.
Some gay couples prefer split insemination, where half of the donated eggs are fertilised using one partner’s sperm and the other half use the other partner’s sperm.
The most straightforward way for lesbians to have a child is through the insemination of donated sperm, which can come from a male friend or anonymous donor.
For lesbian couples struggling to conceive a baby with donated sperm, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is usually the next step. IVF involves fertilising eggs in a lab, then placing the resulting embryo into the womb. Of course, if neither of the partners has a womb that can carry a baby, a surrogate may be needed.
For lesbian partners, something called reciprocal IVF is another option. It involves one partner’s eggs being inseminated into the other partner’s womb, meaning one woman is the biological mother and the other woman carries the child to term.
Since it involves two partners, reciprocal IVF (or co-IVF) between two lesbians costs more.
Similarly, if both men in a gay relationship want to contribute their sperm to the process, that will also cost more.
For lesbians, choosing informal sperm donation – with the process performed at home – might save money, but undergoing insemination through a clinic is a much safer option. Donor sperm form a clinic is guaranteed to be free of any sexually transmitted infections or genetic disorders. Plus, going through a clinic gives both women immediate parental rights, regardless of whether they’re in a civil partnership or not.
For prospective partners needing a surrogate and thinking of having more than one child, it might be worth considering trying for twins. Overall, the cost of transferring two embryos to a surrogate isn’t that much more than it is for one embryo. And it’s certainly less expensive than going through the whole process again after having a first child.
Transferring multiple embryos to a surrogate can also give both parents a biological child, assuming that they could contribute an egg or sperm.
For trans and non-binary people, having a child can be all about timing. If they’re planning to transition, they can freeze their sperm, eggs or even embryos, meaning they can have a biological connection to any future children. Of course, any sperm, eggs or embryos frozen can be transferred to surrogates, if necessary.
If trans or non-binary people require fertility treatment – such as insemination with donor sperm or the more complicated IVF – to conceive themselves, they might need to pause any hormone therapy they’re having.
For LGBTQ people, the fertility journey can be complicated, but it’s reassuring that there are options and anyone can start their own family.