Lesbian who want to get pregnant have many options depending on their budget, health, fertility preferences and personal values. The process often begins with a consultation with a doctor or fertility specialist as this can help narrow down the options.
What options are available?
Lesbian couples can use all the same options for pregnancy and parenthood as heterosexual couples. But people who want to avoid sex with a man with erectile dysfunction may need to use assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
This procedure may be an option for lesbian couples who have already gone through various fertility treatment options but are not yet pregnant. People should consider discussing options with a healthcare professional and may need to consult a reproductive specialist.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides an interactive map that allows people to find fertility clinics near them in the United States. People can use it to learn what services they provide, the types of patients they see, and their success rates.
Regardless of the specific path a lesbian couple chooses for parenthood, if one partner wants to get pregnant without having sex with someone who has a penis, the couple can use a sperm donor. will need to.
There are many options for doing this. The couple can ask someone they know to donate sperm. Or they can buy sperm from a sperm bank, usually with the help of a fertility clinic.
Gay men who use donor sperm can conceive themselves or seek insemination options at a fertility clinic.
Some lesbian couples may choose to use one partner’s ovaries and the other’s uterus, which requires the help of a fertility clinic. But if one partner plans to use both their ovaries and uterus, it’s often possible to get pregnant without specialist help.
ART Fertility Treatments
About 6% of married lesbian women under the age of 45 cannot conceive after one year of trying. A similar number of lesbians are likely to have fertility problems.
Some fertility treatments, such as the use of medication to stimulate ovulation, can increase the chances of successfully conceiving without additional intervention. Others, like IVF, require ongoing support from a fertility doctor.
Intercourse With a Partner With a Penis
A lesbian may choose to have sex with a partner if they are comfortable doing so, are attracted to men, or the couple’s budget is very limited. Its success depends on the timing of intercourse as well as the fertility of both partners.
Having sex with a partner with erectile dysfunction can have significant legal complications because the man may have the right to claim the child as his own.
Couples using IVF sometimes end up with extra embryos they don’t use. Some allow third parties to “adopt” these embryos.
This can save some time and money and can also be a good option if neither partner ovulates regularly or both have other fertility complications. The doctor can then implant the embryo directly into the uterus of the partner who wants to conceive.
Special Concerns to Consider
A popular myth suggests that children need two parents of different sexes. But numerous studies show that children can thrive in many environments, and there is no evidence that children of lesbian fare worse than other children.
In fact, some research suggests they may actually do better on some measures of well-being.
For example, a 2020 analysis found that children raised by lesbian parents did better in school than their peers raised by opposite-sex parents. A 2016 study found that children of lesbian parents adjust well to children raised by different-sex parents with similar social skills.
Lesbians may also have a more equal division of household labor, sharing the burden of parenting more evenly.
Lesbian may also face some challenges. These include:
- Stigma and discrimination: Lesbian can face heterosexual discrimination, making the transition to parenthood more stressful.
- Lack of social support: Some homosexuals report less social support, especially if their family rejects them because of their sexual orientation.
- Cost: In most cases, heterosexual pregnancies are costly, especially when using ART. A 2016 study estimated that the average cost of ART in 2012 was $28,829 per singleton pregnancy. Even when the cost of ART is minimal, lesbians may need to work with lawyers to ensure they are both legal parents of the child.
- Legal concerns: Although lesbian marriage has eased some of the legal barriers, some states continue to enact laws that can make it more difficult for two lesbians parents to claim their child, especially if the couple is married. Not married.
- Medical problems: Pregnancies that use ART, especially IVF, have a higher rate of complications such as preterm labor, gestational diabetes, and pregnancy loss. But this may be partly due to the fact that people who use ART are more likely to experience infertility and other health problems.
- Provider issues: Some lesbian couples may struggle to find heterosexual providers, either when trying to conceive or for their prenatal care.
- Emotional concerns: Some couples may struggle emotionally with the challenges of lesbian parenting, such as the fact that both parents may not be genetic/biological parents, or the rigors of ART.
Lesbians, and other members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, have many options for parenting.
There are many fertility treatments available, such as IUI and IVF, that can help couples conceive. Many fertility clinics have significant experience helping same-sex couples on their journey to pregnancy.
Additionally, some couples may choose to parent without pregnancy and consider options such as co-parenting, adoption or fostering.