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5 decisions for gay dads during IVF

PFCLA
27 Jul 2018

Through many advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART), two men can bring new life into the world together.

LGBTQ+ In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other ART procedures have delivered groundbreaking family-building results for members of the gay community, empowering partners that once thought bridging a child into this world would be impossible. 

However, there are many things to consider when starting the process of IVF as two men, or two women. Assessing and weighing the full scope of factors is critical when setting yourself up for a successful IVF process. From financial planning and selecting the right clinic to embryo selection and the number of children desired, you need to be fully prepared to become a father. 

Understanding IVF as Gay Dads

In Vitro Fertilization, regardless of partner, follows the same process: Harvesting and fertilizing eggs with sperm in a fertility clinic, and transferring the fresh or frozen embryos back into the uterus of the patient.

However, gay couples have a special set of circumstances when preparing to have a child through IVF. When two men are starting the process of IVF, the chances are high that they will each want a biological child. This introduces the sometimes difficult question of “Who goes first?” or, “Can we do twins?” 

Because many gay couples may only have enough money saved for one full journey (IVF, Surrogacy and Egg Donation), they must decide amongst themselves who will be the first biological father. Often, couples choose the older of the two partners as the first bio-dad. For those who are concerned about the financial implications of doing this twice, they may be thinking about pursuing having twins. 

When undergoing IVF in gay couples or trans women, you will need the following for IVF: 

If you or your partner struggles with low sperm mobility or other forms of male infertility, you may want to discuss involving a sperm donor. With this in mind, you and your partner should be on track for a happy and healthy pregnancy with IVF and the care of the best fertility clinic. 

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When considering IVF with your partner, ask yourself the following questions and note what your responses are to best understand your path forward with ART.

1. Do you each want a biological child?

There are a few things to heavily weigh in this decision. The truth is, every egg retrieval is going to bring a different egg yield. When it comes down to both fathers being a biological parent, this means that the eggs will need to be split. 

Splitting the eggs before fertilization allows for half of the embryos will be biologically related to each intended parent. This means each bio-dad will get half of the eggs, instead of one getting all. IVF technology has advanced to the point where if you have a good egg donor and a good surrogate, this shouldn’t affect your odds of achieving your dream to bring home a baby.

If the egg retrieval is low in number, the chance of getting viable embryos from each parent will go down a little. Look for a donor who is young and has a great ovarian reserve with high AMH levels to best set you up for success. When your doctor has evaluated your donor, she will be able to tell you what her resting follicle count is. This can help you get an idea of how many eggs you might expect from a retrieval.

2. Will you try for multiples or singletons? 

It can be financially helpful to put two embryos in a surrogate and try for twins. This would offer a set of intended parents the two children they are vying for, at little more than the cost of one journey. 

Most gay dads choose to split the egg retrieval and fertilize half of the retrieved eggs with each partner’s sperm. Sometimes, though, the same male couple’s sperm can be split between two separate egg donors. This is often done in mixed-race couples, as each dad may want a donor who matches his partner’s ethnicity. 

Because you each now have embryos, you can transfer one embryo from each father into the surrogate at the same time (two embryos total), which can potentially lead to twins where one is related to each biological father.

If you choose to pursue multiples, make sure to ask your doctor about the risks involved, as multiple embryo transfers carry more potential risk to the surrogate and the babies. You should also consider that if the twins come early, you could be spending a substantial amount of money in the NICU. The risk of twin pregnancies is also higher.

3. Do you want PGS testing? 

Some embryos have a higher chance of a successful pregnancy than others, and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) can identify genetic markers related to genetic disorders, down syndrome, and the sex of the child. PGS testing can also help gay parents in the IVF process successfully create pregnancies by using viable blastocysts. 

Though it’s an additional cost, PGS testing is invaluable in this process. PGS testing will tell you which embryos are truly the strongest and most healthy. They can also determine the sex of the child, which often a gay dad is interested in if they would like one of each sex. Choosing the sex of your children through embryo selection is called family balancing. 

4. Will you use a fresh or frozen sperm sample? 

When undergoing IVF as gay men, you must decide whose sperm to use (or elect for both). Based on your location, a frozen sperm sample from a gay dad can be facilitated to ease the travel aspects of creating the embryos. However, a fresh sample is also a very effective way of providing your specimen for the creation of embryos. 

Your skilled doctor can guide you best on what set you up for the most success based on your sperm quality. 

frozen sperm ivf with gay dads

5. Who will be your gestational surrogate? 

Next to choosing the right clinic and agency, the decision of how to choose a surrogate mother is one of the most important decisions for gay couples seeking parenthood through IVF.

There are generally far more intended parents in need of help than there are eligible surrogate mother candidates, and this is good to keep in mind when weighing what qualities are a must, and what preferences are flexible as you navigate this process. 

When evaluating potential surrogates for you and your partner, consider the following: 

  • Surrogate mother’s health
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Age
  • Pregnancy and delivery history
  • Location
  • Relationship status
  • Surrogate mother’s lifestyle
  • Your personal connection with the surrogate

Your clinic or agency will help you locate and select appropriate candidates for egg or sperm donation or surrogacy, and your physicians carefully screen chosen candidates to rule out medical or psychological problems. 

Because of the high costs involved in this process, some gay dads contract surrogates independently to try and and avoid agency fees. This allows them the flexibility of performing two different journeys with one embryo each.

However, there are substantial legal and custody risks involved when pursuing this on your own. Because of this, we always recommend using an experienced agency with a long track record of success to best protect and serve you, your child, and your surrogate. Using a friend or family member as a surrogate or egg donor may seem like a good option, but it can lead to unforeseen consequences, sometimes years in the future. Make sure every contingency is discussed.

Starting your journey toward parenthood with IVF as gay dads

Today, it’s gratifying that advanced reproductive technology can help so many different people who aspire to be parents. However, the process can be both complicated and expensive.

Our best advice is to consult experts and gather information for informed decisions. Your doctor can discuss the different types of treatment that may work best for you and your partner. It is also important to understand the various success rates and know what your insurance will or will not cover.

While it is an exciting time, the process may also be stressful. There are emotional issues to consider along your path to parenthood too. Most clinics have a counselor on staff who specializes in fertility issues or can refer you to professionals they recommend. They can also refer you to the best agency to help with donor eggs, embryo, and sperm.

When you are ready to start on your journey to fatherhood, contact us today for a consultation with our doctors.

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About Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles

For 30 years, people have been choosing the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles. Established in 1991, PFCLA is one of the leading fertility clinics in America. With success rates that are among the best in the nation, we’ve been a part of over 7,000 happy, healthy births.

Whether through IVF or using an egg donor or surrogate, we specialize in guiding intended parents—including LGBTQ+ members—through what can be an emotional and complicated process. Our patients, including celebrities and royalty, come from more than 75 countries to take advantage of our exceptional treatment, support, and discretion.

We work with the top egg donor and surrogacy agencies in the country, leading to ideal, curated match recommendations for our intended parents. Simply put, your dreams are our passion. Everything we do is to ensure you have the most rewarding experience possible. 

Note: This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided is for general educational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. Speak to your doctor directly with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any information contained herein does not replace any care plan as determined by a physician. 

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