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Navigating LGBTQ+ Family Planning and Fertility

Updated: Jun 21

Insights from a Fertility Nurse & Patient Empowerment Coach 

Couple holding hands
Fertility and Family Building for LGBTQ+ Families Can Be Complex

If you're reading this, chances are you're exploring the wonderful world of family planning within the LGBTQ+ community. As a fertility nurse, I've had the privilege of working with individuals and couples from all walks of life, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.


At Grain Fertility, we strongly believe everyone is entitled to grow the family of their dreams and families are not one-size-fits-all. The path to parenthood in this community is nothing short of remarkable and while often people do not know where to begin, we are here to guide you through the process. 


First things first, let's debunk a common myth that family planning and fertility treatments are just for heterosexual couples. That could not be more than false! LGBTQ+ individuals and couples have every right to pursue their dreams of parenthood. Here at Grain Fertility, we want to help you make those dreams a reality. No matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, or identification, Grain Fertility can provide you with the organizational tools and fertility navigation services you need to help you through your own journey.


Assisted Reproductive Technology for the LGBTQ+ Community

The path to parenthood in the LGBTQ+ community is commonly achieved via assisted reproductive technology (ART). Whether it's through intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), or surrogacy, there are a myriad of options available to help LGBTQ+ individuals and couples conceive.


Let's not sugarcoat it; the road to parenthood for LGBTQ+ individuals and couples can come with its fair share of challenges. From navigating legal hurdles and escalating expenses to facing societal stigma, there are obstacles that must be overcome. As a fertility nurse and a Grain Fertility Patient Empowerment Coach, part of my role is to provide not only medical education but also emotional support every step of the way.


One of the things I love most about my job is the opportunity to educate and advocate for my patients. Whether it's explaining the ins and outs of ART procedures or connecting patients with resources within the LGBTQ community, I'm here to empower individuals and couples to make informed decisions about their family-building journey.

 

A growing number of same-sex couples are turning to Assisted Reproductive Technology to have children. However, there are a number of factors to consider, including:


Same-Sex Females

For women who are considering ART for their family building, it is important to consider several questions when exploring fertility options, including:

  • How will you find a sperm donor (either known or anonymous); and

  • Is either partner is interested in carrying the pregnancy or will you use a surrogate?  


Same-sex femals have several options for assisted reproduction, including:

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
  • An IUI is a fertility procedure in which donor sperm would be inserted into the patient’s reproductive tract by the means of a catheter.

  • This is done at your fertility doctor’s office while you are awake and can be slightly uncomfortable.

  • Before the IUI, you may need to visit the fertility clinic multiple times to monitor the development of the follicles, each containing an egg, in order to time the IUI with ovulation.


Reciprocal-IVF
  • Simply put, this option is when one partner’s eggs are used to create an embryo and the other partner carries the pregnancy.

  • Reciprocal-IVF is unique in that it enables both partners to be directly involved in the pregnancy journey.

  • One partner can donate their eggs by undergoing ovarian stimulation and a surgical procedure to extract the eggs from the ovaries. The eggs are then fertilized in the laboratory through the process of IVF create embryos. At this time, the second partner may undergo preparations for the embryo to be transferred into her own uterus.

  • Both procedures will require sperm from either a known donor or an anonymous donor.

  • Both of these procedures will require sperm from either a known or anonymous donor.


Same Sex Male Couples

For men considering ART for their family building, there are several options, including:

  • The sperm that is used;

    • Either one or both partners are able to provide a sperm sample to fertilize eggs from an egg donor. This enables the offspring to be genetically related if you choose to grow your family with more than one child. By using donor eggs, embryos can be created via the process of in-vitro fertilization and stored for later use. 

  • The use of donor eggs to be fertilized with partner’s sperm; and

  • How will you find a surrogate to carry the child?


Our friends at Expecting.AI have drafted an amazing resource for intended parents navigating the complexities of third-party reproduction. This can be read here.


Single Parents by Choice

While Hollywood has sold us on the story that we are all meant to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right, fall in love and have children, that is not always the case. Your relationship status should not be a barrier to parenthood. Thankfully with modern day fertility treatment, there are a number of options for single men and women to become parents.


Women:
  • Most common path to parenthood is IUI involving donor sperm

  • The IUI procedure may be done at home, as there are at-home kits to support this, however the majority of the time IUI is performed at a fertility clinic.

  • Unfortunately women exploring this option may be at a later age and therefore may have diminished fertility. Do not despair, the beauty behind fertility is the opportunity to explore egg donation or embryo donation


Men:
  • Men who are interested in pursuing the path to parenthood may do so by the means of egg donation and a surrogate.

  • If a man does not want to be genetically connected to his child there is the option for embryo donation or adoption as well.


Transgender Men/Transgender Women: 

Prior to gender affirming hormone replacement therapy and/or surgical intervention, there are options to help set yourself up to be able to have a biological child.


Transgender Men:
  • Those born with a uterus and ovaries may consider preserving their eggs prior to gender affirming treatment. Therefore, when they want to grow their family biologically, their eggs may be fertilized with donor sperm and transferred into a gestational carrier’s uterus.


Transgender Women:
  • For a man who is transitioning, they have the ability to freeze their sperm before undergoing gender affirming treatment. The sperm may be inserted directly into a uterus via Intrauterine Insemination or sperm may be fertilized to use the embryos in the future via a female partner or gestational carrier.


It is important to discuss with your Reproductive Endocrinologist where you are in your journey and provide detailed documentation and records with all of your doctors to ensure you are medically cleared to begin fertility treatments. This is something Grain Fertility can help with, as our organizational tools and timeline feature allow you to record and save your most important health information in one easy to use location.


Every Journey is Unique

It is important to recognize that every LGBTQ family's journey is unique. What works for one couple may not work for another, and that's okay. As a fertility nurse, I'm here to listen, support, and tailor treatment plans to meet the individual needs of each patient.


At the end of the day, LGBTQ family planning isn't just about biology—it's about love, resilience, and the unwavering desire to create a family. Here at Grain Fertility, I,  along with our team of Patient Empowerment Coaches,  feel incredibly privileged to be a part of that journey. The application is user-friendly and can support anyone embarking on the path to parenthood through fertility treatments. Premium users at Grain Fertility are able to access 1 on 1 coaching sessions, receive discounts with our fertility partners and gain access to exclusive webinars. 


We are committed to providing compassionate care to all individuals and couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.


So, to all my LGBTQ friends out there who are dreaming of starting or expanding their families, know that you are not alone. With the right support and resources, your dreams of parenthood can become a beautiful reality. We are here each step of the way, cheering you on. 


If you have any further questions or need assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to us. If you are not a Grain Fertility Premium Member, you can sign up here or if you are a member using our free version, go to your Account to upgrade your service.


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