Medically reviewed by
Dr. Nicolette Natale
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
The path to parenthood for LGBTQ+ couples is not always straightforward, especially for same-sex couples. Many individuals in same-sex relationships wanting to have children prefer one or more children to be biologically related to one of the couple's individuals. Therefore, third-party reproduction is needed to provide eggs, sperm, or embryos or to be a gestational carrier for the intended parent(s),
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is often needed to help start LGBTQ+ families.
IVF is when fertility medications are used to stimulate the woman’s ovaries to produce mature oocytes or eggs. These eggs are harvested from a person’s ovaries and then combined with sperm from a donor or an intended parent in a lab. In the best case, you get a few embryos, and one or two of those embryos can be transferred to the uterus of the intended parent or a gestational carrier.
Many gay couples have biologically related children through IVF.
Between finding an egg donor, finding a carrier, and having a baby, the entire process costs time and money. This whole process starts with finding a suitable egg donor for the couple. Suppose you are interested in learning more about selecting the right egg donor for gay couples. In that case, you can begin by understanding the process below.
Choosing an egg donor will look different based on selecting a donor from an agency or someone you know. Agencies are ideal if you want to choose specific character traits. Egg donor agencies organize potential egg donors through a strict recruiting and screening process. An agency representative helps you start the egg donation process and possible fees.
Choosing someone you know can help can be easier and more cost-effective than an agency. However, the donor will still undergo legal, screening, and health considerations. The screen processes for personal or agency egg donors will consider the following characteristics. Once chosen, the donor will receive medication for egg production, which will be retrieved when matured. Eggs successfully fertilized with the sperm will then be transferred to a chosen surrogate or gestational carrier.
The best chance of success for LGBTQ+ couples is to choose a donor of prime age. The best ages for egg donors are typically under 30 years old. As people with uteruses age, their fertility declines. People with uteruses over thirty produce fewer eggs, and these eggs increase the chance of chromosomal abnormalities. Embryos resulting from such can have Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, and Cystic Fibrosis. Although being over thirty does not guarantee the risks of embryo abnormalities, same-sex couples using IFV have better chances with younger donors.
Women over thirty produce fewer eggs. Additionally, people over the age of thirty have increased chance of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome. Although being over thirty does not guarantee an abnormality will occur, same-sex couples using IVF will have better chances of having healthy babies using a younger donor.
The baby born from IVF will carry the donor's genes, meaning that if the egg donor has a family history at risk of diseases or disorders, these health risks could be present in your child. Some genetic diseases and conditions include (but are not limited to) Huntington's disease, tuberous sclerosis, color blindness, schizophrenia, and certain cancers. To provide your baby with the best health possible, your egg donor should ideally not have a medical history that includes genetically transmissible diseases and disorders.
It is not uncommon for children to take after their birth parents regarding educational capability and interests. Naturally, parents often hope their children will take after them. The donor selection process automatically reviews the egg donor's test scores, personal accomplishments, and completed education, allowing gay couples to compare educational levels between potential donors and select donors with favorable academic traits they hope their children will follow.
Some intended parents do not particularly care how their children specifically look or the specific skills they can inherit. However, IVF does allow gay couples to be more selective. Do you want your child to have brown hair? Green eyes? Do you want them to have a certain height? Or inherit athletic qualities? These characteristic qualifications can be genetically controlled, and half of those genetics will come from the egg donor. Therefore, selecting an egg donor with the ability to create a specific genetic makeup is essential when you want your children to have particular traits or skills.
Choosing proven vs. first-time egg donors both have their benefits. The most prominent befit of a proven donor is that the donor has demonstrated to be capable of producing eggs that carry to full-term and end with live birth, demonstrating that this donor's eggs have viability and quality, likely resulting in a healthy embryo so long as there is nothing wrong with the sperm.
One major benefit is that first-time donors can give a less expensive service than repeat donors. They can also be tested for ovarian reserve before you finalize their selection process.
Intended parents should have a legal professional draft or review their egg donor contract, a legal, written agreement stating the rights and obligations of both the intended parents and the egg donor. These contracts are customized to the preferences of both parties and exist separately from the egg donor agency contracts.
If you decide to build a family through egg donation and surrogacy, you usually must bear all of the costs associated with it. While it is worth checking with your insurance, you will likely have to cover all medical expenses for you and your surrogate, including the cost of any complications.
The overall cost of working with an egg donor can vary from couple to couple, based on the desires or requirements of the intended parents. Still, IVF with an egg donor can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 per cycle. Costs can increase depending on the clinic, location, and egg donor agency. Your fertility specialist can provide a complete breakdown of costs associated with the medical aspect of egg donation,
Another option for gay couples is IVF with an embryo donor. An embryo is created after the sperm and egg are fertilized so the baby will not be genetically related to the intended parents. However, an embryo donor can be much less expensive than IVF with an egg donor. IVF with an embryo donor is usually under $10,000. While this is not inexpensive, it is much more manageable for many than the cost of IVF with an egg donor.
Family planning is an intricate process, and every decision is made in the best interest of the child's well-being. Gay couples seeking an egg donor have a lot of options to consider. The ability to be so selective down to genetic makeup makes a promising opportunity to ensure your child's health is optimal.
However, not every health condition can be predicted or erased from a child's medical history. In the unfortunate circumstance of children facing severe medical conditions, it may be beneficial to have your baby's umbilical cord blood banked for future stem cell treatments. We invite LGBTQ+ couples and intending parents to contact Anja Health today to start their family planning process.