If you’re considering which path to take to becoming a same-sex parenting dream team – this is a good place to start
For some couples consisting of two LBQ+ women, starting a family may be a topic that is frequently discussed.
Still, deciding which route to take in order to achieve this can be a confusing time for some couples given the amount of options that are available.
Do we have to use IVF?
With couples choosing fertility treatment as their option, one of the biggest misunderstandings that can occur is that the couple have to use In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) as their chosen form of treatment.
IVF involves removing the birthing mother’s egg from the ovaries and fertilising it in a laboratory using a chosen sperm donor. The embryo (fertilised egg) is then placed back into the womb to grow.
Women that choose IVF may include those that have health issues such as hormonal imbalances, fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, fallopian tube disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, premature ovarian failure or scarring from previous surgery.
The above health issues may be an indicating factor that could affect a woman’s fertility status. IVF may also be the chosen option if the birthing mother wishes to use their partner’s egg.
What are our other options?
However, if the birthing mother does not have any health-related conditions and is considered fertile and l healthy, the couple may want to consider other fertility treatments that could have less implications on the body.
The next most common treatment which a female-female couple may choose is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) which involves placing prepared sperm into the uterus close to the eggs.
This process should coincide with ovulation as it maximises the chances of the sperm reaching the egg and fertilisation occurring. Compared to IVF, IUI is a less invasive procedure and also less expensive. IUI also uses low doses of fertility drugs and does not usually require anaesthesia.
What are the differences in success rates?
IUI essentially allows the body to do more on its own than IVF, however this does have an implication for the success rate.
According to the latest, 2017 report published by the Human Fertilisation And Embryology Authority, the success rate for IUI for women aged under 35 is 18% compared to IVF which is 29%. The same increase applies for women aged 38-39 years – through IUI it’s 12% compared to 17% through IVF.
The report also indicates that treatment cycles for patients in same-sex partnerships has increased by 12% from 2016 to 2017. (The full report is available here).
And what about at-home insemination?
Couples may also consider artificial insemination at home. The safest option in finding a donor is to source one from a fertility clinic where the sperm has been checked for infections such as hepatitis, HIV, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea and certain genetic disorders. Some licenced UK clinics can also import sperm from outside of the UK.
A couple could also use sperm from a known donor such as a friend or someone they know but they should be aware of any infections or genetic disorders that the donor could have.
Want more advice on starting a family?
If you’re a couple that is in the process of or thinking of starting a family and would like any advice, please contact one of the following fertility clinics which offer specific fertility support for same sex couples in the UK:
Create Fertility: createfertility.co.uk/fertility-treatments/ivf-for-lesbian-couples
Care Fertility: carefertility.com/where-to-start/ivf-for-lesbian-couples/
For support with issues related to sexual health and wellbeing please contact the lesbian and bisexual women’s worker at Birmingham LGBT on 0121 643 0821 or email firstname.lastname@example.org #WellWomanLBQ
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