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What It’s Like to Conceive When You’re LGBTQ+
The various avenues to pursue and possible issues to address for LGBTQ+ couples looking to conceive.
August 12, 2020
There are already a vast number of potential roadblocks for a couple trying to conceive when the couple consists of both someone with sperm AND someone with ovaries. But the journey of conception for LGBTQ+ relationships can pose an even longer list of potential complications, from medical to logistical to legal. But as anyone good parents will tell you, that moment of finally holding your baby makes it all worth it.
While adoption and foster care are certainly popular options, biological children are still an option for couples where both members have ovaries or sperm (referred to for the duration of this article as AFAB or AMAB). While the following list is a bit of an oversimplification, the basic questions include:
Where are you getting the sperm?
In the case of an AFAB couple, how are you getting the sperm where it needs to be?
Where are you getting the egg?
Who’s carrying the egg?
How much do these choices cost, and will insurance cover it?
It’s daunting, there’s no doubt about that. But daunting doesn’t mean insurmountable.
A couple might choose to have a known sperm donor for a number of reasons. For one thing, if the donor is a relative of one of the people in the relationship, that can be a surefire way to ensure that both parents are biologically related to the baby. A couple may also choose a donor who they know because of certain traits they want to pass on to the child, anything from visual reasons (so that the child may look like the non-carrying parent) to reasons relating to medical history.
A known donor is also a cheaper option, as the couple won’t have to pay the fees associated with sperm banks. Unfortunately, not using sperm banks can also lead to some problems. For one, sperm banks test for things like disease and fertility, tests which can be conducted without a sperm bank, albeit with a bit more hassle. For another, a couple who doesn’t use a sperm bank run the risk of facing legal issues with child custody. It is vital to have a contract with the donor, and to make sure you’re operating in a state where donor contracts are legally enforceable.
It is important to note that a child conceived with the help of a sperm bank may have half siblings they are unaware of. It can be particularly difficult to know for sure in cases of an anonymous donor. While it is entirely up to the parents whether or not to disclose this to a child, the possibility of unknown siblings is certainly something to keep in mind.
Once you know where the sperm is coming from, you have to figure out how it’s getting to the egg. AMAB couples pursuing surrogacy do not typically have to deal with this question, but AFAB couples there are a variety of options, including:
In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Reciprocal or Otherwise
In IVF, eggs are fertilized outside of the uterus before being reintroduced into the reproductive system. IVF can cost anywhere from $9,000 to $20,000 per round, but also has a notably higher success rate than other methods.
An AFAB couple might decide who’s going to carry the baby based on any number of factors. Who wants to be pregnant? Would either person feel dysphoria carrying a baby due to their gender, or is that a non-issue? Who has a family history of easy pregnancy? The deliberation varies from couple to couple.
For AMAB couples, the main discussion is usually whether to choose a carrier or go through an official surrogacy service. A carrier that the couple knows might be a good reason for the same reasons that a known donor might be a good reason: known family history and genetics, personal connection, etc. But whether a couple chooses to have a carrier they know or a carrier they find through an official company, it is important to ensure the surrogacy happens in a state where surrogacy contracts are legally enforceable. An official surrogacy company means less risk of legal issues concerning custody. On the other hand, the $50,000+ cost of official surrogacy may not be within every couple’s financial means.
Yes, there are complications, and yes, conception as a member of the LGBTQ+ community can make it seem like the world is working against you. But thankfully, there are resources to help. Modern Fertility, for example, has a wholelistofhelpfulresources to support LGBTQ+ couples trying to conceive.
For every issue, there’s someone to reach out to. Be proud, be parents, be part of a loving community.
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