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Same Sex Reproduction for Females

a blog by Dr. Mark Payson, Dominion Fertility, January 16. 2015

As our country has become more progressive there is a greater and greater interest in same sex options for creating a family. Today I will explore some of the issues for female same sex couples and in my next blog I will review the options for male couples.

The simplest option for females is to choose a sperm donor and undergo donor inseminations. There are a number of excellent and reputable sperm banks which offer a wide selection of options. Donors may be chosen based on ethnicity, physical characteristics, education, interests, etc.

The female partner who is going to undergo the insemination will first undergo a basic fertility evaluation which will include blood tests, an ultrasound, and a test to make sure the fallopian tubes are open.

Sometimes couples will want to use a friend or relative as a known sperm donor. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. First of all donor sperm requires a six month quarantine before it can be used, so there is a waiting period before the inseminations can be performed (samples from a sperm bank have already passed the quarantine). Second, when you involve someone known into the process, there is now another involved party, and it is important to think about what role and/or responsibility he will have in the life of the child. A legal contract is required for the protection of all parties in these cases.

Another option that some couples turn to is called “reciprocal IVF.” In this scenario one member of the couple undergoes IVF to produce eggs and then embryos. The embryo is then implanted in the other partner’s uterus. This allows one partner to be the genetic parent and the other to be the birth parent. This process is more involved and expensive than simply donor sperm inseminations, but some couples prefer this option as they both have biological link to the child. If you are interested in this, speak with your reproductive endocrinologist to see if it is something they are able and willing to do.

This discussion assumes there are no fertility issues. However if the initial testing discovers a fertility problem, therapies would need to be tailored to address those issues.

It is important to be aware of state laws as regards birth certificates and parental rights. For married couples generally both members of the couples will have equal parental rights to the child, and in many states both can be listed on the birth certificate. If the couple is unmarried, often only the birth mother/genetic mother will have rights and obligations to the child.

There are many options available for couples today, and with a little work and effort you can have an excellent chance at parenthood. Good luck with your quest to have a family!


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