Much like humans, the families we’re born into come in all shapes and sizes, but regardless of which mould it fits - family is family. At Hertility, we celebrate families of all kinds which is why we’re proud to offer routes to care for LGBTQ+ families seeking new mini-members.
For any couple, beginning the journey to parenthood can be daunting - no matter who you’re starting a family with. But for same sex couples the road to parenthood can cause even more head-scratching, especially when considering the variety of treatments and paths available. We’ve broken down the different routes for LGBTQ+ couples looking to grow their families, to make the baby-making voyage slightly simpler.
Artificial Insemination/ Intra-uterine insemination (IUI)
Artificial insemination or IUI is a common path of fertility care lesbian and same sex female couples embark on and it can be also used to impregnate a surrogate. Generally, couples decide who will be the carrier and then choose a sperm donor, either from a generous friend or from a network of donors. The better quality sperm are separated from sperm that are sluggish, non moving, or abnormally shaped, and the healthy guys are injected directly into the uterus using a thin flexible tube (catheter) during ovulation.
Couples have the choice for the insemination process to take place in a licensed clinic, or they may opt to do this in the comfort of their own home to save them money and time. But, there are some legal risks if you choose this second option. If you are married or part of a civil partnership, it doesn’t matter whether the conception occurred in a clinic or at home - both parents are considered legal parents. However, if you are unmarried and conceive at home, the donor is considered the legal parent, technically giving them rights over the child. The child’s non-birth parent will therefore need to adopt them after its birth to ensure they have full parental rights.
You can find a clinic offering IUI near you here.
Surrogacy is a popular option for male same-sex couples looking to fulfill their parenthood dreams. Two dads sounds pretty awesome, right? But they do need a little egg and womb assistance. The process involves choosing a suitable surrogate who agrees to carry the child on behalf of a person or couple who cannot carry themselves, but they will become the child's parent after birth. Traditional surrogacy entails the surrogate’s eggs being fertilised using the sperm from someone within the couple, to create the biological link to one of them.
Whilst surrogacy is legal in the UK there’s no money-making opportunity here - so don’t get any ideas. It is illegal for a surrogate to receive any monetary gain from helping you on your journey to parenthood, and it is even illegal to advertise seeking a surrogate. There are a lot of other complicated legal issues to note about surrogacy. The most important being that once you have found a suitable carrier, they are technically the legal mother of the child when it is born. This is even if the eggs and sperm used in the process are yours or were donated and the carrier is not genetically related to the child. The surrogate has rights over the child until you receive a parental order from the court - so of course it is vital to choose someone you trust. For these reasons, it is common for a close friend or family member to carry a child on behalf of the couple.
Want to find a surrogate? Click here for more information.
Trans and non-binary parents
Babies might not quite be on the brain whilst you're dealing with the stress of having a body that does not match your identity, but thinking about your fertility future is important if you’re transitioning. Hormonal treatments used in the process can unfortunately damage your fertility long-term, and reproductive construction surgery will also make it difficult for you to create a biological child. This is why many individuals take steps to ensure their fertility is preserved before beginning their transition. This can be done via egg or sperm freezing.
A specialised lab can extract your sperm or eggs pre-transition, and store them inside specialised tanks containing liquid nitrogen for up to 55 years. This ensures that if the time comes where you are ready to become a parent, you have the power to choose when and how you build your own family. The process of egg/sperm freezing also grants the ability to have your own biological child.
For more information about trans and non-binary fertility treatments click here.
All this insemination and surrogacy talk might make you realise that fertility treatment isn’t quite right for you, but they’re not the only options. Adoption or even fostering are also great ways to add members to your LGBTQ+ family. Now, it’s no secret that the road to adoption isn’t a walk in the park, and of course there are many legalities involved, but the benefits come in boundfuls. Whilst there are many steps to the adoption process, LGBTQ+ couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples - so you are at no disadvantage here. Local authorities and adoption agencies' goal is to place children in secure and loving environments, to give them a better chance at life - so if you can offer this, you’re already winning!
Thinking about adopting? Click here for more information.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or you’d like more information about the different fertility paths - don’t hesitate to reach out. We appreciate this journey is different for everyone, which is why we like to get to know you on a personal level before we suggest the best route for you.
If you’re ready to start tracking your fertility, or have any questions about your overall female health, we’d love to help you out. Why not join our waitlist and we’ll let you know when we’re live so we can help guide you along the fertility path.