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 for same-sex female couples with a desire for children, just as with their heterosexual peers or infertile couples. However, for those who want to have a desire for pregnancy and a biological child, the path to parenthood can take multiple routes. We’ll look at some of these options now, but remember that it never hurts to visit a fertility clinic yourself and learn more about fertility treatments, fertility medications, and about your own fertility health.
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. American Society for Reproductive Medicine
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.Known Donor
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 same-sex female couples 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, dependent on your personal preferences, any medical issues, and different fertility factors.
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 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.” Medicine Net,
A similar alternative is ICI, or intracervical insemination. While these options are less expensive than IVF, they also carry lower success rates. The rate of pregnancy ranges from 5% to 20%, depending on age, so it may take more than one cycle to become pregnant.
This is not an option that every couple would be comfortable with. A lesbian can choose to have sex with a male partner if the couple is comfortable doing that and if she is attracted to men. This is also an option if the couple is low on funds as it costs considerably way less than other options.
However, it is important to note that this might create complicated legal issues as the man could have a right to lay claim to the child someday.
Sometimes couples who undergo IVF get more embryos than they need. Some of these couples allow other couples in need to use these embryos.
This option can save lesbian couples that desire a child a considerable amount of money and resources. It can also be a saving grace for lesbian couples that have issues with fertility. such embryos can be placed into the woman that wants to conceive.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
The defines American Pregnancy Association
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 female patient’s uterus. In general, IVF treatment has great success rates. This process can also be done with a donor egg. According to the 2018 statistics collected by the (SART), for women under the age of 35, the rate of pregnancy 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. Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Reciprocal In Vitro Fertilization (R-IVF)
Reciprocal IVF, also known as partner-assisted reproduction, is another good option for same-sex couples. In this process, 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 article titled- “Co-Maternity and Reciprocal IVF: Empowering Lesbian Parents with Options.” Huffington Post’s
ART Fertility Treatments
It is important to note that just like some heterosexual women experience fertility issues, it is only natural that some lesbians will also have fertility issues. It is likely that about 6%of lesbians have issues with fertility.
Treatments exist to help lesbian couples overcome such challenges. These include procedures such as the use of medicine to boost ovulation. This can enhance a woman’s chances of getting pregnant without any further complicated intervention.
Another option is IVF which has already been explained above.
Now that we understand how same-sex couples get pregnant, let’s look at the average costs involved in each one.
How much do these pregnancy options cost?
listed the average costs for the LGBTQ+ community to achieve pregnancy in the United States for each of the options listed below. Family Equality
- 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.
Important Issues to Consider Before Getting Pregnant
A lot of false information goes around stating that children need two parents from two different sexes to thrive. However, a lot of studies have shown that it isn’t true. There is no proof whatsoever that the children of heterosexual parents do any better than those of lesbian parents.
On the contrary, what there is evidence of is that children of lesbian parents do better in some assessments of well-being.
For example, a 2020 study showed that children of lesbian parents performed better in school than those raised by heterosexual parents.
Other challenges lesbian couples can face on their journey to parenthood include:
- discrimination, prejudice, and stereotypes that the LGBTQIA community face will pose difficulty for some couples.
- Some lesbians will face a lack of social support, especially in situations where family rejects them for their sexuality.
- It can be really expensive for lesbians to get pregnant. The cost could exceed $28000 in some cases making it very difficult for lesbian couples that aren’t financially buoyant.
- Legal issues can also make it hard for lesbians desiring children. Some states have laws that can frustrate lesbian couples from laying claim on their child especially if the couple isn’t married.
- Procedures like IVF and ART come with risks of complications.
- Lesbians could also face difficulty in getting nonheterosexist donors and providers.
- It is also possible that a few couples might experience emotional struggles arising from the fact that both parents cannot be genetically connected with their child or also from the challenges and costs that come with the procedures involved in lesbian parenthood.
If you’re at the point where you’re considering starting a family, reach out to a fertility specialist. A fertility doctor can go over the best options for you based on your medical history or fertility issues and set you up for a positive pregnancy.
Do you have any other questions about how lesbians get pregnant? Any thoughts to share? Tell us below.
Deanna has a knack for finding unique vacation destinations. She regularly puts her research skills into action to find the most amazing LGBTQ-friendly honeymoon ideas.