Fertility Options for Female Couples

Building a family is a beautiful journey for any loving couple. For women navigating fertility without a male partner, the path to motherhood is absolutely possible through assisted reproductive technology. Our fertility clinic provides a welcoming, inclusive environment and a range of options to help female partners conceive.

The Process of Reciprocal IVF

One of the most common approaches used by lesbian couples is reciprocal in vitro fertilization (IVF). This involves one partner providing the eggs while the other receives the embryo transfer to carry the pregnancy. Both women get to actively participate in the childbearing experience.

The process starts with evaluation appointments to assess fertility through bloodwork, ultrasounds and other testing. Next, the egg provider follows an ovarian stimulation protocol to produce multiple mature eggs for fertilization. Her eggs are then retrieved through a minor surgical procedure. The eggs are fertilized using donated sperm from our sperm bank.

After fertilization, one or more resulting embryos are transferred into the uterus of the partner acting as gestational carrier. Any high quality embryos can also be frozen for potential future use. About two weeks later, pregnancy is confirmed through a blood test.

Benefits of Reciprocal IVF

Reciprocal IVF offers several advantages for lesbian partners looking to get pregnant:

  • Ability to share genetic connection to the child. Using one partner’s egg while the other carries the pregnancy allows both women to have a biological bond.
  • High success rates. IVF has the best chance of conception compared to other fertility treatments. Success rates depend on the age of the egg provider.
  • Multiple chances. Leftover frozen embryos from one IVF cycle can be used in subsequent transfers to maximize chances for pregnancy without having to repeat egg retrieval.
  • Increased accessibility. Reciprocal IVF makes it possible to build a biological family when factors like fertility, age or health require using both women’s reproductive resources.
  • Convenience. Retrieving eggs from one partner avoids twice the procedures, medication, and appointments compared to each partner doing a full IVF cycle.

At our fertility center, we help identify which partner should provide eggs vs. carry based on detailed testing of ovarian reserve, uterine health and other parameters. This helps optimize your chances of bringing home a healthy baby.

Options with Donor Eggs or Embryos

For some couples, using eggs from an open ID or anonymous donor can vastly expand family building possibilities. Reasons female partners may consider donor eggs include:

  • Advanced maternal age. Using younger donor eggs improves the chance of conception. After 35, egg quantity and quality decline.
  • Diminished ovarian reserve or premature ovarian failure. Some women deplete their eggs early or have a low egg count. Donor eggs can help in these cases.
  • Genetic issues. Donor eggs may be preferred if a genetic condition could impact ability to conceive or carry a healthy pregnancy.

In these instances, the gestational carrier can still experience the joy of carrying her child. Pairs may also opt for reciprocal IVF using frozen donor embryos. With embryo donation, neither woman needs to provide eggs. As the embryo recipient, the chance of pregnancy is higher than using her own eggs depending on donor’s age.

Fertility Options Without IVF

For couples wanting to minimize medical intervention or IVF is cost prohibitive, intrauterine insemination (IUI) with donor sperm is simpler, more affordable alternative. IUI involves preparing either partner’s uterus to accept sperm that is inserted directly into uterus when ovulation occurs. If trying with your own eggs, fertility medications can help stimulate ovulation for better timing.

At home insemination using donor sperm is also an option, however success rates tend to be lower than IUI. Adoption offers another route to build a family. Same-sex adoption is legal in all 50 states. There are children needing loving homes both domestically and overseas.

Reciprocal IVF Using Gestational Surrogacy

In situations where both partners are unable to carry a pregnancy, working with a compassionate gestational surrogate or carrier is a way to complete your family. Our clinic has trusted relationships with several surrogate agencies that can match intended parents with an altruistic surrogate.

One woman provides her eggs that are fertilized with donor sperm. The resulting embryos are then transferred and carried by the gestational surrogate. Some key legal considerations are having a surrogacy contract, court order pre-birth, and obtaining a birth certificate listing both female spouses as parents in states where allowed. Counseling and legal support provides guidance on this complex process.

Supporting Your Fertility Journey

However you choose to pursue motherhood, our caring fertility clinic team provides full medical, emotional and educational support along the way. We offer services like:

  • Fertility preservation: Egg freezing allows women to store eggs when they are youngest and healthiest for future use. Elective freezing is available.
  • Legal guidance: We’ll discuss legal aspects like getting parentage orders or birth certificates.
  • Inclusive care: Our clinic celebrates and welcomes LGBTQ+ families. Your comfort comes first.
  • Mental health services: Counseling, support groups, mindfulness support fertility treatment.
  • Financing: We have options to assist with costs like grants, fundraising platforms, loans and discounted treatment plans.

Begin Your Family Journey

Starting a family looks different for every patient, but your dreams and health come first at our clinic. Whether you choose reciprocal IVF, gestational surrogacy or another path, our goal is to provide exceptional care tailored to your needs. We would be honored to assist your growing family. Please contact us today to begin your fertility consultation.

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