For gay couples keen to start a family, the road to ‘the bump’ may seem particularly bumpy.
The process of conception appears cold and clinical, far removed from the warm, loving world in which your baby will be wrapped from the moment it arrives. Before the patter of tiny feet sends you gaga, there are biological practicalities to overcome with a clear head. You need to find a suitable donor, and learn how to maximise the chances of success. There are emotional hurdles too – deciding the birth mother, and thinking about how the other partner will feel. On top of that, there’s still the same chance of fertility issues as a heterosexual couple faces – but with less sympathy and support from the world at large.
While that all sounds daunting, the good thing is there are options out there to help same-sex couples who are taking the big step into parenthood. From a simple helping hand to finding donor sperm, to biologically sharing parenting, it’s all available if you know where to look! If costs of treatment at a fertility clinic prevent you taking things further, there are also options to drastically reduce the sums involved by donating eggs to other couples.
To properly explore the options the first step is to find a clinic which throws out the welcome mat to same-sex couples. Sadly, gay women still report mixed experiences at fertility clinics; the literature can be almost exclusively aimed at straight couples, and there remains the chance of a hostile reception. It’s an emotional enough experience without dealing with disapproving staff who have no interest in helping you move things forward.
One clinic which markets itself to gay women is the Centre for Reproduction & Gynaecology Wales (CRGW). They offer a range of tailored support to make would-be parents feel comfortable and suit their personal needs. This could mean extra assistance from the counselling team, use of the donor sperm bank, complementary therapies, or exploring underlying causes of fertility issues and suggesting the best way forward.
Another option which suits some gay women is treatment so that one partner can donate her eggs while the other partner gives birth to the baby. One couple who have been though this process recently – and have not looked back – is Alison and Sophie. In their case, both wanted to give birth, although wisely not to be pregnant at the same time! As Sophie was 38 and Alison 32, they decided that Sophie would get pregnant first, but they would retrieve and fertilise her eggs for Alison to use at a later date. After choosing from donor sperm profiles, Sophie was first to go through the IVF process, the embryos frozen safely for future. After that the couples’ cycles were matched (using the trusty old pill!), Alison’s eggs were fertilised too, and the resultant embryo was transferred to Sophie. All went swimmingly, Sophie is now pregnant, and both are happy to be heading to motherhood together.
This may seem like a complex process, but any parent will tell you the end result is well worth the effort. It’s good to know there are choices out there for gay women to help make their dream of being a mum come true.