Fertility treatments for same-sex female couples

10 minute read

Calling the same-sex female couples that want a baby… Don’t know where to start or what options you both have? Download our lesbian pregnancy guide for everything you need to know about family-forming including treatment options, sperm donation, fertility nutrition and more.

Additionally, if you’d prefer, read on to see the fertility treatment options available to you if you are thinking about having a baby as a queer woman.


of Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) in England are still falling short of reducing the burden for same-sex-female couples to access NHS services despite the recently initiated Women’s Health Strategy’s commitment.

Navigating LGBTQ+ healthcare as a same-sex couple

There are still huge healthcare inequalities that exist for the LGBTQ+ community. And when it comes to having a baby as a same-sex couple, it can be hard to know where to start. From testing and sourcing sperm to accessing services that have been designed (mostly) with cis, heterosexual couples in mind, often the first barrier is accessing the right information at the right time.

How to conceive banner

How to conceive as a lesbian couple

Step One: Check both of your fertility levels

Although there might be one of you in your relationship who is more interested in carrying the baby or is more appropriate because of their age or health, it is advised for both of you to have your fertility tested.

From there you can coordinate a plan together and decide who is going to carry the baby. Our fertility test kits are a great option to help you get clarity on what’s going on inside your body.

Step Two: Do a sperm donor screening

Once you have completed your fertility tests, got your results back and have decided who will carry the baby, it is time to schedule a sperm donor screening.

But there is a lot to think about when it comes to your screening, and if you’re worried about important health information with regards to your donor, there’s lots of guidance available. This article explains how you can better understand the process of medical checks and family history.

Step Three: Pick which fertility treatment is right for you

IUI, IVF… what are all the options?! There are several routes to conception but how do you know which one is right for you and your partner? We’ll talk about the different treatment options below, but if you need more information, download our same-sex pregnancy guide for more detail on each one.

Step Four: Speak to our team of clinicians for a referral to a fertility clinic

Consult with a doctor about your decision so that you are aware of what the procedure involves physically and mentally and what chance of success you may expect. You can also ask your GP for advice about which fertility clinic to choose but you might also want to do your own research before committing to a specific clinic.

Medical history

Fertility treatment options for same-sex female pregnancy

With today's advancements in science and technology (and the generous help of sperm donors) - there are four different donor options available to you.

IUI with donor sperm for lesbian couples

IUI with donor sperm is a very effective fertility option and could be a great option for you and your partner. It involves the injecting donor sperm into the uterus around the time of ovulation to facilitate fertilisation.

The steps of this procedure

Screening the donors: In the donor screening process, you will be able to access the history and information of multiple sperm donors. This includes their family and medical history, as well as information including their occupation, personality and interests. This will also involve a semen analysis that shows they are able to provide healthy sperm. The choice is yours!

Monitoring the woman’s ovulation cycle: After completing a fertility test and deciding who will carry the baby, the intended carrier will then coordinate with the fertility clinic and your cycles and ovulation will begin to be monitored. Sometimes fertility medication is provided to stimulate the ovaries into producing more eggs and to support the maturation of those eggs.

Preparing the sperm sample: After the donor sperm has been provided by the sperm donor, the team at the fertility clinic will start the preparation. The semen will be separated and be prepared for the procedure.

Performing the insemination procedure: If you are not taking any fertility medication, the intended carrier will then visit the clinic around the day of ovulation, if you are taking medication, you will be given medication to help trigger ovulation. The insemination procedure will then be timed around this time

The procedure is very similar to having a smear test with a speculum. A small catheter (a soft, flexible tube) is inserted into your womb via the cervix. The prepared semen sample, containing the best quality sperm, is inserted through the catheter.

The whole process takes just a few minutes and is usually painless but some people may experience temporary, period-like cramping. Following the procedure, we may recommend that you rest for some time before going home the same day.

IVF for same-sex couples

IVF follows the same procedure as IUI but the key difference to know is that IUI involves placing the prepared sperm directly into the uterus to increase the chances of fertilisation. IVF involves retrieving eggs from the ovaries, fertilising them with sperm in a laboratory and then transferring the resulting embryos into the uterus.

IUI is often chosen over IVF as the procedure is less time-consuming and less expensive than IVF. Often women will have two or three rounds of IUI before opting for IVF if IUI has been unsuccessful for them.

Reciprocal IVF

What is reciprocal IVF?

Reciprocal IVF, also known as shared motherhood, is a fertility treatment option for same-sex female couples. This option allows both of you to have a biological connection to the child. For example, if your partner was to provide her eggs, they will be fertilised with donor sperm and transferred to your uterus for pregnancy, or vice versa.

Reciprocal IVF UK cost

As both of you will be receiving medical treatment in this option, the costs tend to be higher than other fertility treatments. The average cost of reciprocal IVF in the UK can vary greatly, it depends on a variety of factors, including the fertility clinic that you choose, if any medication is required or whether any further tests need to be conducted. On average though, reciprocal IVF can cost anywhere from £3,500 to £8,000 (excluding medications) for one cycle.


Another option for you and your partner, could be surrogacy. Surrogacy is finding a gestational carrier who will carry the baby for you. One partner provides the eggs, which are fertilised with donor sperm and then transferred to the carrier’s uterus for pregnancy.

  • A family member or a friend could be the surrogate mother to your baby - (we understand the sensitivity around this conversation) but don’t completely rule it out, because it could be an option for you.

  • Otherwise, you can use a non-profit surrogacy organisation or agency. The three main agencies in the UK are Brilliant Beginnings, COTS and Surrogacy UK.

Things to consider before receiving fertility treatment

Legal advice

Seeking legal advice before receiving fertility treatment is important to ensure that you understand your rights, responsibilities, and any legal implications associated with the process.

It can help both of you to navigate issues such as parental rights, custody arrangements and financial obligations providing clarity and protection for all parties involved.

Funding and financing

Considering funding before receiving fertility treatment is important because it allows you to plan and budget for the costs associated with the treatment.

Fertility treatments can be expensive, and having a clear understanding of the financial aspect helps you to make an informed decision and explore available options, such as insurance coverage or financial assistant programs.

Some clinics will allow you to make a payment plan, so it is important to do some research beforehand. IVF financing will allow you to spread the cost of your treatments over a certain time period, the longer the time period, the higher the interest.

We know it's an exciting time but doing your research and considering the financial side of things will ensure that you are both prepared and can alleviate potential financial stress during the process.

Fertility check-up

As previously mentioned, as a same-sex female couple, having both of you complete a fertility test enables you to understand each individual’s reproductive health and determine the best course of action.

Optimising your fertility

Optimising your fertility before receiving fertility treatment can increase the chances of a successful outcome. It involves adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, having a healthy sleep routine and avoiding harmful substances like alcohol or smoking.

Taking steps to optimise your fertility can create a favourable environment for conception and improve the effectiveness of fertility treatments. You can read our guide on nutrition, lifestyle changes and optimising fertility here.

Other family-building options for same-sex couples


Adoption is a lovely way to build a family as it provides an opportunity to give a loving home to a child in need. Adoption allows lesbian couples to create a family and experience the joys of parenthood, regardless of biological factors. Adoption also brings immense fulfillment and the chance to make a positive impact on a child’s life.


Co-parenting is another pathway you could choose to go down. This usually involves two or more people, who are not in a relationship, deciding to raise a child together.

You and your partner could choose to have a biological child with a gay man or a gay couple and agree to raise the child collectively. You can choose to opt for fertility treatment such as IUI or IVF for this, depending on the medical history and sperm quality of those involved.

Before entering a co-parenting agreement it is super important for all parties involved to seek legal advice and to discuss who will be the legal parents to the baby. As well as discussing how parental responsibilities and financial responsibilities will be split before taking this family-building route.

An essential guide to trying to conceive as a lesbian couple

Our scientists and clinicians at Hertility have compiled all of the latest up-to-date education and conversation, to bring you the expert guide you’ve always wanted. Covering everything you need to know to get started on your fertility journey as a same-sex female couple, our guide includes:

  • Fertility and reproductive health basics

  • Fertility treatment options

  • Sperm donation 101

  • Fertility optimising nutrition

  • Case studies and stories


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“What should have been a fairly straightforward conversation about our options became a stressful and extremely expensive journey without the necessary facts or information. Deciding what route to conception is best for you shouldn’t be decided by a clinic but by yourselves, as a couple.

I wish we had had a resource like Hertility to help guide us through the process and remind us we have agency over all our decision making.”

Jen Brister

Comedian, author and ‘The Other Mother’ to twin boys

Want to help shape the future of fertility services for same-sex couples?

At Hertility, we believe everyone should have access to the highest standard of healthcare. We want to help same-sex AFAB couples get access to affordable, convenient and inclusive fertility services.

We’re building a dedicated care pathway for this community, but want to make sure we’re offering services that really reflect your needs. Join our beta-community and help us shape the fertility services we provide.

This will include things like a few quick questionnaires, optional focus groups and exclusive access to services when we launch. You can opt out at any time.

Reproductive health

Get clear on your reproductive health

Whether you’re thinking about family forming now, or in the future, every fertility journey starts with understanding your reproductive health. Each of our at-home Hormone and Fertility Tests includes:

  • A comprehensive online health assessment

  • A personalised hormone panel of up to 10 markers of reproductive health

  • An easy-to-use at-home blood collection kit

  • A doctor-written report analysing your results

Hertility’s commitment to allyship

As a brand, we stand with the LGBTQIA+ community and against all forms of hate and discrimination. We are committed to always striving towards equality and raising the voices of anyone marginalised by the current healthcare system. Like any brand committed to learning, we’re also growing and changing as this space evolves. You can read more about our pledge to diversity and inclusion here .

Transparency with our language

We use the terms ‘lesbian’, ‘same-sex female’ and ‘AFAB’ couples and partners throughout our content. We know that not everyone who is/was AFAB and has an AFAB partner identifies as female, or as a lesbian, so we’ve decided to use these terms interchangeably to try and be as inclusive as possible to different sexualities and gender identities.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you feel there are other terms we can use that make you feel seen.

Good luck

Good luck on your journey together

Starting a family is incredibly exciting, but we know it can also seem really scary too. Undoubtedly, there will be times of uncertainty, frustration and maybe even heartbreak. Throughout this time we can’t emphasise enough the importance of looking out for your mental health.

If you are going through this journey with your partner, make sure you’re checking in with each other regularly and creating a space where you both can communicate how you’re feeling at each stage.

If you ever need to chat, please reach out to us. We have specialist fertility counsellors who can help you navigate any of the emotional aspects of your journey. And remember, if you are looking for more in-depth information download the full pregnancy guide here.

Here's what we'll cover


Navigating LGBTQ+ healthcare as a same-sex couple

How to conceive as a lesbian couple

Fertility treatment options for same-sex female pregnancy

Things to consider before receiving fertility treatment

Other family-building options for same-sex couples

An essential guide to trying to conceive as a lesbian couple

Want to help shape the future of fertility services for same-sex couples?

Get clear on your reproductive health

Hertility’s commitment to allyship

Good luck on your journey together