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Modern Guide to Family Building [2020 Edition]

PFCLA
07 Jan 2021

Many couples can’t wait to start a family and begin a new milestone.

Yet, the Center for Disease and Control Prevention found that one in eight couples are unable to conceive. This results in millions of couples and single intended parents, especially members of the LGBTQIA+ community, dreaming about having children without the ability to do so on their own. 

Fortunately, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), can lead intended parents toward their dream of bringing new life into the world and creating a lifelong bond with their child. With the right help, anybody who sets their mind to it can successfully build their family. 

Download the modern guide to family building 

To access the entire Modern Guide to Family Building, download your copy today. Prepare for your future and learn about your fertility options to: 

  • Understand the essential fertility lingo 
  • Increase your chances of IVF success 
  • Learn more about LGBTQ+ family building
  • Plan ahead for the financial aspects of your fertility journey
  • Select the best possible egg donor, surrogate and fertility clinic
Access the guide

Everyone’s fertility journey, pregnancy, labor, and delivery are unique. That’s why there is no one-size-fits-all fertility treatment or plan for the path toward parenthood. Still, you can achieve a happy, healthy family with one (or more) children in your life to love and support as they grow up. The bond you form with your children is unlike any other, and everyone deserves to experience the unconditional love and lifelong bond you form with your children. 

Let's learn about common infertility causes in men and women, your options for family building, and next steps to make your dreams of family into a reality. 

Understanding Infertility: When To Get Help

Infertility in men and women is highly common, with as many as one in eight couples experiencing trouble. If after a year of trying to conceive without success for a couple under the age of 35, or 6 months of trying if 35 or over, it’s time to consider consulting with a fertility specialist. 

Causes of Female Infertility

Female infertility can stem from conditions or abnormalities affecting the female reproductive organs, or from hormone imbalances that affect the menstrual cycle. However, the two can be heavily linked.  

Women need functioning ovaries, fallopian tubes, and a uterus to become pregnant, so some conditions impacting these organs can contribute to female infertility. 

While these conditions may be disheartening, many of them are highly manageable and easily diagnosed by fertility specialists, who are also known as reproductive endocrinologists (REs). REs receive years of additional training past OB/GYN level education to accurately diagnose and treat the fertility issue at hand. 

When meeting with a fertility specialist, conditions that can be tested and issues that can be discussed include:

Causes of Male Infertility

Infertility can also stem from male conditions, such as problems with sperm production, function, and mobility, which accounts for up to 40% of all male infertility. 

Whereas a woman has a finite supply of eggs, a man produces sperm continuously after puberty, which means infertility can arise at different stages throughout their life and they may be candidates for more fertility treatments.

Causes of male infertility or sperm dysfunction include:

  • Problems getting or maintaining an erection
  • Ejaculation problems
  • Groin injury or surgery
  • Testicular tumors, cysts, or cancer
  • Adult contractions of mumps
  • Undescended testicles
  • Common illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or heart disease
  • STDs that can cause infertility if left untreated, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea

However, it’s also common for a low sperm count to simply be the result of poor health or lifestyle. To prevent, or in some cases, correct this low sperm count, it’s recommended that men follow these guidelines: 

  • Abstain from drugs and smoking
  • Limit or abstain from alcohol
  • Talk to your doctor about medications that can impact sperm count
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit exposure to high-stress environments
  • Avoid pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins
  • Avoid heat (Jacuzzis, saunas, hot tubs)

Family Building Options: Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Advanced Assistive Reproductive Technologies offer new tools and approaches to increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy. Because every individual facing infertility has a different set of obstacles and roadblocks, your fertility specialist will recommend the best path forward for you. 

Throughout the 20th century, many important realizations and medical discoveries led to modern-day ART. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that since the first successful birth through IVF in 1978, IVF has played a role in 99% of ART during 2015 alone. 

As the most effective path toward pregnancy, IVF can play an important part in your journey toward fertility. However, other methods of insemination can also prove to be effective. 

Understanding In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) success rates have greatly improved throughout the years. In standard IVF, harvested eggs are fertilized with sperm in a fertility clinic, and the resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus of the patient. 

For some individuals, a gestational surrogate is also part of the process. If you’re a straight couple that struggles with infertility, conventional IVF is your best shot at achieving a successful pregnancy, and can be enhanced further through Intracytoplasmic Insemination (ICSI), Genetic Screening, and Assisted Hatching

For many, specifically LGBTQIA+ patients, IVF can be accomplished with the assistance of egg donation, a sperm donor, or in some cases, donated embryos. Female patients can undergo artificial insemination, IVF, or use a third-party surrogate and egg donor. Let’s explore different options for a variety of intended parents. 

Family Building Resources For LGBTQ+ Couples

There are many things you and your partner should consider when starting the process of IVF as two men, or two women. The factors you’ll weigh and assess when trying to set yourself up for the ultimate success include financial investment, embryo selection, and the number of children desired. 

Gay male couples and trans women seeking parenthood will need an egg donor, a surrogate, and potentially an embryo or sperm donor. Female patients can undergo artificial insemination,  IVF, or use a surrogate. In some cases, patients may also need third-party egg and sperm donors. 

Let’s cover in-depth the various paths to parenthood for different intersections of identity. 

Parenthood Options for Lesbian Couples and Trans Men 

Lesbian couples and trans men have several options to consider when choosing to build a family together. Do both partners want the experience of carrying a baby? 

If so, there are two important decisions to make:

  • Which partner will try first?
  • How will you choose the sperm you’ll use?

Many couples work with a surrogacy and egg donation agency to choose sperm from the same male donor, and each plan to have a child with their eggs throughout their lifetimes. This is a great option for many, as it is the most cost-effective and requires the least amount of medical intervention.

In some cases, one of the partners is not able to carry a baby or would prefer not to carry a baby, but would like to form a genetic connection with the child. One increasingly popular option for lesbian partners wishing to have a child is reciprocal IVF (also known as partner IVF or co-maternity). 

In this fertility treatment, one partner provides the eggs and the other partner carries the pregnancy. This is an attractive solution to many couples because it allows both women to be physically involved in the pregnancy, which can facilitate feelings of emotional involvement and connection to pregnancy.

Otherwise, Conventional IVF is available for lesbian couples and trans men with either a known or unknown sperm donor. 

Parenthood Options for Gay couples and Trans Women 

Gay men and trans women 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 encourages them to pursue having twins after splitting the egg retrieval and fertilizing half with each partner’s sperm. If preferred, the same male couple’s sperm can be split between two separate egg donors.

Splitting the egg retrieval lowers the egg yield per person and will result in fewer embryos per father. However, this doesn’t mean gay couples and trans women aren’t having multiple children all the time. With advanced technology and a great donor, you can fulfill your dream of having a child from each intended father or mother.

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

  • An egg donor
  • A surrogate
  • A sperm donor 

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. 

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, emotional and expensive.

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, surrogates, and sperm.

Whatever challenges you or your partner may face, there’s a solution that can lead you to the family you desire. Understanding the role that egg donor and surrogacy agencies, and IVF clinics will play is the first step in planning for your future. 

Download the modern guide to family building 

To access the entire Modern Guide to Family Building, download your copy today. Prepare for your future and learn about your fertility options to: 

  • Understand the essential fertility lingo 
  • Increase your chances of IVF success 
  • Learn more about LGBTQ+ family building
  • Plan ahead for the financial aspects of your fertility journey
  • Select the best possible egg donor, surrogate and fertility clinic
    Access the guide

About Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles 

If you’re ready to start your fertility journey, it’s time to start planning. Come to one of the nation's oldest and most established private fertility clinics, offering services to help you successfully create your newest family member. 

Whether you're a member of the LGBTQ+ community or you're a heterosexual couple facing infertility, we can help you. Contact us to learn about your next steps and start making your dreams into a reality. 

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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