Every prospective parent faces a barrage of questions and concerns. When do we start trying? What will we name the baby? How do we make sure we’re ready? Can we afford a child? It’s only natural to experience concerns such as these and more. However, a same-sex female couple faces a unique question; who carries the child?
When both women are capable, have no health issues and desire the experience, it’s not easy to determine who becomes pregnant. There are many considerations including the legal ramifications. In most states only the birth parent retains legal parent status until the other partner adopts the child as a step-parent.
Paths to Pregnancy for Same-Sex Female Couples
First off, it’s necessary to understand the methods a same sex female couple uses to grow their family. There are essentially three options: adoption, donor sperm, or donor sperm and donor egg. Of course, you and your partner will discuss your options with a fertility specialist, however, the two preferred methods for conceiving and carrying a pregnancy are intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
IUI involves monitoring your ovulation cycle for the optimum time for conception. Your clinic will monitor you and ensure the appropriate time to inseminate by inserting concentrated sperm directly into your uterus. In some cases, the physician and patient opt to use fertility medications to ensure the exact time of ovulation.
IVF is the process of fertilization of your egg, your partner’s egg or a donor egg using donor sperm. Once fertilization occurs and the lab ensures viability of the embryo(s) your doctor implants an embryo in your or your partner’s uterus. The lab stores additional viable embryos cryogenically if you wish.
Reciprocal IVF is another option for same-sex female partners. You may use your eggs for fertilization, and your partner carries the pregnancy.
Deciding Who Carries the Pregnancy
Just as with heterosexual couples there are many factors same-sex female couples must consider when determining who will carry the child. Certain circumstances pose a greater risk for both the mother and baby, and some factors can complicate conception. When you and your partner are deciding who carries the pregnancy, consider the following.
- Fertility: This seems somewhat obvious; if one partner is infertile or has compromised fertility it makes sense for the fertile partner to carry the pregnancy. It’s most prudent both you and your partner undergo a basic fertility exam to rule out any underlying issues.
- Medical Conditions: Are you both healthy? Are either of you under a doctor’s care for a chronic condition such as diabetes or hypertension? What about your family histories? Are there any genetic conditions you could pass on to your baby? A full physical and genetic counseling is a responsible undertaking before you make your decision. If both you and your partner have compromised fertility or a concern over genetic conditions speak with your fertility specialist about your options.
- Age: Age factors heavily in a woman’s fertility. A woman’s eggs are at prime viability in her 20s. By age 30 the quality begins to decline. Once a woman hits 35-40 and beyond this decline becomes more rapid. As she gets closer to menopause, it becomes more difficult to conceive. For couples who have a significant age difference, the younger partner is more likely to conceive and carry a pregnancy to a successful outcome.
- Lifestyle: From a health perspective the partner with the healthiest lifestyle is the more likely candidate. Alcohol consumption, smoking, recreational marijuana, diet and stress all impact fertility as well as pregnancy. If one partner has a low-stress lifestyle and healthy habits, such as clean eating, exercise, no unhealthy habits, she is the most obvious choice.
- Personality and Life Goals: Sometimes one partner desires pregnancy and the other not so much, for a myriad of reasons (health, career, or any of the health reasons mentioned above). The partner who most desires pregnancy should carry the child.
When Both Partners Decide to Become Pregnant
In some cases both partners decide to become pregnant at or around the same time. This makes for a memorable life-adventure as each partner experiences her pregnancy while supporting the other. However, many couples find this solution too overwhelming. In any case, if both partners are healthy and willing, and you both desire more than one child, you can, essentially, take turns.
Consult With Your Physician First
Same-sex female couples have many options along the path to parenthood. Each pregnancy, like every couple, is unique. You and your partner likely have plenty of questions. At LA IVF we have the answers. Contact us today, and we’ll help you realize your dream of becoming parents.