Reproductive Options for Lesbian Women
(Purchase, NY) Gay women who want to become pregnant and have a family biologically have many options available to them. In a recent educational video by The American Fertility Association titled "Reproductive Options for Lesbian Women," many of those options are discussed along with legal considerations to keep in mind. The video, funded by Attain® Fertility Centers, is part of a series that addresses a wide range of fertility issues in addition to assisted reproduction options for lesbians.
Dr. Samuel C. Pang, Medical Director of the Reproductive Science Center of New England opens the video by discussing the importance of working with a doctor when choosing to become pregnant through alternative insemination.
“This is especially important for women over 35 who may not have much time left to have a child and could potentially have infertility factors keeping them from getting pregnant,” he explains. Even for younger women, Dr. Pang stresses that “it’s prudent to get evaluated before embarking on donor sperm insemination” so that you know exactly what you are dealing with before investing the time, emotion and money into conceiving a child.
The video goes on to discuss the difference between using a known donor and a donor from a sperm bank. Among the major issues to consider are medical, social and legal as well as issues of cost.
Known Sperm Donor
For many gay women hoping to become mothers, the plus side of having a personal relationship with the donor is knowing that the donor and child(ren) will have a relationship throughout their lifetime. However, there are also legal issues to be considered with a known donor and it is imperative to understand the laws about donor insemination as they differ from state to state. It is also vitally important that issues from financial commitment to custody not only be discussed, but formalized in a legal contract. It is also important to understand that the personal relationship gay parents have with the donor may change over the course of time. Considering every possible scenario including the death of either or both moms and potential financial issues and discussing these issues with the donor will make the choice more tangible and safe for the parents, donor and the child.
Sperm Bank Donor
Among the top reasons gay women opt for a sperm bank donor are anonymity of identity and safety from infectious diseases. Sperm donors currently have the option of being anonymous so that none of their identifying information will ever be disclosed to any adult offspring born from their donation. Other donors may participate in a program that allows their identities to be released at the request of offspring 18 years of age or older. In addition, some registries enable donors and offspring to search for each other and their half-siblings. But at the end of the day, based on current laws, unknown donors cannot claim any legal rights to children born through their donations. In addition, buying anonymous donor sperm from a sperm bank is the safest route that woman can take concerning potential parental rights issues.
It is important to note that in the United States, there are no federal laws governing sperm donation, but there are FDA regulations in place that do have an impact on the process.
Fresh Sperm v. Frozen Sperm
Fresh sperm may actually be riskier than choosing to use frozen sperm. While frozen sperm from a sperm bank has been quarantined for at least 180 days and has had all FDA testing for infectious and sexually transmitted diseases, fresh sperm may be infected with a disease like HIV/AIDS since the infection typically doesn’t show up until a few months after infection. In addition, when working with a sperm bank:
- The sperm bank must be licensed by the Board of Health
- The sperm bank must obtain and present a detailed personal and sexual history of the donor
- The sperm bank must obtain and present a thorough physical examination of the donor and screen out potential donors who are at increased risk for STIs
- The sperm bank must screen for heritable diseases such as cystic fibrosis
- In order to limit the number of half siblings that are generated from any one donor, strongly consider working with a sperm bank that controls the number of live births obtained from each donor.
A growing trend is for lesbian couples to choose reciprocal IVF where one partner provides the eggs and the other carries the pregnancy. This option allows both women to be more fully and emotionally invested in the birth of their child. In this case, one partner will have her eggs harvested and inseminated with donor sperm. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the other partner. Many couples will then return a few years later and reverse roles.
With all of these options available, and no matter which a lesbian couple chooses, it is very important not to overlook one’s emotional and physical well-being. Good nutrition, healthy levels of exercise, giving up smoking and limiting alcohol intake along with maintaining a healthy emotional life will all contribute to a healthy and successful pregnancy.
For more information about fertility options for gay couples, visit AttainFertility.com.
About IntegraMed America, Inc.
IntegraMed® America, Inc. manages highly specialized outpatient facilities in emerging, technology-based, niche medical markets and is the leading manager of fertility centers and vein clinics in the United States. IntegraMed supports its provider networks with clinical and business information systems, marketing and sales, facilities and operations management, finance and accounting, human resources, legal, risk management and quality assurance services. Attain Fertility Centers, an IntegraMed Specialty, is the nation's largest fertility network, comprised of 42 contracted centers with over 130 locations in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly one of every four IVF procedures in the U.S. is performed in an IntegraMed network fertility practice. Vein Clinics of America, an IntegraMed Specialty, is the leading provider of varicose vein care services in the US, currently operating 36 centers in 13 states, principally in the Midwest and Southeast.
About The American Fertility Association
The American Fertility Association is committed to preventing infertility whenever possible and to helping people build families of choice, particularly when faced with infertility. AFA services and materials are provided free of charge to consumers and available to everyone without reservation. Contact The American Fertility Association at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit http://theafa.org/ or call (888) 917-3777.