Family Building for Gay Male Couples
Bringing children into the world is a monumental life event that Advanced Reproductive Medicine is honored to help facilitate for couples—regardless of sexual orientation. Family building for gay males is complicated and involves several clinical, emotional and legal considerations.
For male couples, there are two primary ways to have a child; traditional surrogacy with artificial insemination or using a gestational carrier.
Traditional surrogacy and artificial insemination
In a traditional surrogacy, sperm from one partner is implanted into a surrogate’s uterus with artificial insemination (AI). AI involves physician placement of the sperm. The surrogate may be a relative of one of the partner’s or an unknown surrogate.
Once a surrogate is identified, the male’s sperm will be evaluated for any possible fertility issues. If the partner has a low sperm count or mobility issue, the artificial insemination procedure may include intrauterine insemination (IUI). IUI places the sperm into the woman’s cervix or uterus during ovulation. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), an even more advanced method of AI, includes injecting the sperm directly into an egg. ICSI requires egg retrieval and implantation in the uterus (womb) at an IVF lab.
Traditional surrogacy is less medically complex than other in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures and this generally means lower associated costs for couples.
A gestational carrier is a woman who carries the pregnancy but is not biologically related to the child. If a couple uses a gestational carrier, they may select a non-related egg donor, introduce one of the male’s sperm and use IVF to implant an embryo into the gestational carrier.
If the couple uses a related egg donor (for example, a sister of one male partner who will have his genes), then AI will be performed using sperm from the other male. In this situation, genes from both partners will be represented in the child.
Considerations of family building for gay couples
The primary clinical consideration that male couples must consider is deciding which father will be genetically related to the child and who will carry the child to term. But there are other issues to address before undergoing a surrogacy or gestational pregnancy.
Couples undergoing third-party reproductive techniques are highly encouraged to speak with a psychologist to discuss possible circumstances unique to using a surrogate or gestational carrier. For example, how will the couple deal with any arising issues from the surrogate? In rare cases, some surrogates unrelated to the couple find it hard to separate from the baby and want to continue to see and have a relationship with the child they carried.
Regardless of a couple’s sexual orientation, having children is a large and emotional life step. Speaking with a fertility counselor prepares all couples to begin and maintain an open line of communication as their family grows.
Any couple undergoing third-party reproductive technologies should also consult with an experienced attorney who can ensure that each party receives the highest protection and legal understanding throughout the IVF process. Each state provides different legal interpretations for same-sex couples so it’s important to know your rights. These considerations may include the birth certificate naming, surrogacy rights, egg and sperm donor situations and privacy rights.