Fertility Treatment Options for Single Patients and Same Sex Couples
In recent years, fertility treatment options have exploded for both single patients and same sex couples. The mainstream media has helped to highlight options for this specialized patient population. Recently, the movie Baby Mama and celebrity personalities Ricky Martin, Clay Aiken, and Sara Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s use of gestational carriers has increased the openness towards, and understanding of, third party reproduction opportunities.
Single patients as well as same sex couples have distinctive needs when deciding on a family building plan. Single women may opt to choose donor sperm, either from a known donor or from an anonymous sperm donor bank and have intrauterine inseminations (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments to conceive. If age is also a factor they may need to consider using donor eggs in conjunction with a sperm donor to increase their chance of success. More recently single women who wish to delay child bearing may opt to freeze their eggs for use in the future when they either have a partner or are ready to start a family. This option is best utilized for women who are under 35 years of age. Recently, we have seen an increase in single men deciding to pursue having a biological child. For these men the process will involve both selecting an egg donor and a gestational carrier.
Lesbian couples have several options with regards to family building. They may decide to have one partner undergo an IUI with donor sperm, or they may require IVF with donor sperm. Some couples choose to have one partner donate eggs and the other partner carry the pregnancy. It is sometimes possible for these couples to reverse roles for subsequent pregnancies so that each gets to experience childbearing and a genetic connection to their child. Occasionally, they may require the use of both an egg and sperm donor to conceive.
For gay men the increase in popularity of gestational carriers has opened up the possibilities of family building. These couples are excited to begin the process of egg donor and gestational carrier selection. There are many decisions these couples need to make regarding selection of egg donors and gestational carriers. Egg donors may be a known friend or family member, may be from the clinic’s own egg donor pool or from one of the numerous egg donor agencies available. Gestational carriers are generally found with the assistance of an attorney’s office or an agency. Additionally, gay couples must decide if they are using only one partner’s sperm or if they wish to split the eggs to be fertilized by both partners and have one embryo from each partner implanted into their gestational carrier.
IVF clinics serve as a patient’s guide to assist them through all of these decisions and to navigate patients through their cycle. Although there are numerous choices, and sometimes complex arrangements to make, the effort is well worth it when a patient’s dream of parenthood is fulfilled.