How do lesbians get pregnant? You know what they say, first comes love, then comes marriage…then comes a baby in the baby carriage! If you and your partner are thinking about having children and haven’t started investigating all the options, you may think that adoption is your only choice.
This is certainly a great option. However, for those who want to experience pregnancy and have a biological child, there are others available. Let’s take a look at them.
How Do Lesbian Couples Get Pregnant?
Before we start, take a look at this awesome TikTok video below. It sums it up nicely and beautifully explains what really matters in the end.
Let me just say again, adoption is always a wonderful choice. However, some couples live in areas where they’re forced to deal with agencies that are biased against same-sex couples. Other couples don’t want to take a risk of the birth mom “reclaiming” their rights (which they can do within a certain window). Some just plain want to try for their own biological children.
Whatever the reason, it’s your choice, and you do have options. Since each option is far more detailed than we can possibly describe here, I’ve included some “required reading” for each one that will get more in-depth.
Third-Party Reproduction Donor Arrangements
First things first, you’ll need a sperm donor. In medical jargon, this is called third-party reproduction. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) defines it as “the use of eggs, sperm, or embryos that have been donated by a third person (donor) to enable an infertile individual or couple (intended recipient) to become parents.” Here are a few important terms that you need to know.
Known Donor– The sperm donor is someone the couple knows, like a relative or a close friend. Advantages of this type of arrangement includes knowing the donor’s background and reduced costs, while drawbacks include potential for future conflict on child rearing.
Anonymous Donor– The sperm donor is completely unknown to the couple. No identifying information is provided to the couple and there is no contact at all between the couple and the donor.
Semi-Open Donor– A semi-open donor arrangement provides the couple with some identifying information on the donor, along with limited contact with the donor. Typically, you will communicate with a donor agency or legal firm acting as a mediator.
Open Donor– With an open donor arrangement, which is the least common, communication occurs directly between the couple and the donor. They may agree to meet in person, with the donor possibly attending some of the couple’s doctor appointments with them.
For more information, check out Very Well Family’s article, “Understanding Donor Arrangements.”
How do lesbians get pregnant once they have a donor?
Let’s see how lesbians get pregnant once they’ve chosen the perfect donor. After all, you need to find a way for that “donation” to reach it’s target (your egg and, ultimately, your womb). Again, you have a few different options.
At-Home Sperm Donor Insemination
At-Home Insemination is a popular choice among couples because it is a more comfortable and a more intimate option. It is also a more affordable option since all that’s really needed are a few supplies. Most couples will opt to purchase a home insemination kit, which comes with all the needed supplies. One of the most popular kits is The Mosie Kit, which is doctor-endorsed and reproductive endocrinologist-endorsed. For more information, check out Modamily’s article, “Home Insemination Guide.”
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
According to Medicine Net, the medical definition of Intrauterine Insemination is “a procedure in which a fine catheter (tube) is inserted through the cervix (the natural opening of the uterus) into the uterus (the womb) to deposit a sperm sample directly into the uterus.”
While this option is less expensive than IVF, it also carries lower success rates. The success rates range from 5% to 20%, depending on age, so it may take more than one cycle to become pregnant.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
The American Pregnancy Association defines ART as “any procedure where eggs are surgically removed from a woman’s ovaries and combined with sperm to assist a woman in getting pregnant.”
The most common procedure is IVF. Let’s look at the two different types.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with Donor Sperm
Traditional IVF involves removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries, fertilizing them with a donor’s sperm outside her body, then transferring the resulting embryo back into the woman’s uterus. In general, IVF treatment has great success rates. According to the 2018 statistics collected by the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART), for women under the age of 35, the percentage of live births per IVF cycle is about 47.6%. Success rates decrease with age, with women over the age of 42 having only a 3.1% rate of success.
Reciprocal In Vitro Fertilization (R-IVF)
Reciprocal IVF, also known as partner-assisted reproduction, is the process where one partner provides the eggs and the other partner carries the baby. First, your doctor removes eggs from you. Then, she fertilizes them with your donor sperm outside your body. Finally, she transfers the embryo over to your partner. Or vice-versa, of course.
For more information, check out Huffington Post’s article titled- “Co-Maternity and Reciprocal IVF: Empowering Lesbian Parents with Options.”
Now that we understand how lesbian couples get pregnant, let’s look at the average costs involved in each one.
How much do these pregnancy options cost?
Family Equality listed the average costs for the LGBTQ+ community to achieve pregnancy in the United States for each of the options listed below.
- Known Donor Sperm– Even if you do the sperm collection at home, it still comes with legal fees attached to it. Theyse range from from $100-$1,000. These legal fees deal with parentage orders.
- Anonymous Donor Sperm– Purchasing sperm through a sperm bank ranges from $300-$1,500 per 0.5 cc vial. One vial equals one insemination, and you will likely need more than one.
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)– A midwife or nurse performs this method at home or in a clinical setting. Costs range from $250-$4,000 per cycle, or per attempt.
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)– On average, an initial IVF cycle with fresh (not frozen) eggs costs between $12,000-$15,000 plus an additional $1,500-$6,000 for the required IVF medications.
- Reciprocal In Vitro Fertilization (R-IVF)– This version of IVF has the same $12,000-$15,000 baseline cost, but since both partners will need the required medications in order to prepare their bodies, there’s additional costs of $3,000-$8,000 per cycle.
If you’re at the point where you’re considering starting a family, reach out to a fertility specialist. They can go over the best options for you based on your medical history.