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How to navigate IVF as a same-sex couple

Thanks to advances in technology and medicine, same-sex couples have several options to help grow their families. In fact, when it comes to IVF, lesbian and gay couples have a few routes to consider, depending on your gender and the path you want to take.

In male-female relationships, IVF decisions are about fertility needs, with not much thought to other factors. But gay and lesbian IVF is often a combination of fertility concerns and genetic transfer considerations. Both partners may want their child to have their genetics and features, but each IVF option has different ways to get there.

The first place to start is with a fertility test. Knowing your egg or sperm quality will help you understand your needs and options for conception. If you find some fertility issues, your IVF options narrow. If one partner has optimal fertility, you might choose to proceed with conception with those sperm or eggs (plus the donor options).

IVF breaks down into multiple types of implantation options, depending on your family goals.

Common options for lesbian couples:

  • Create embryos from both partners and donor sperm, which are then transferred into one or both partners.
  • Create embryos from one partner and donor sperm, and transfer into the other partner or surrogate.
  • Use donor eggs and donor sperm to transfer embryo into one partner or surrogate.
  • Choose sperm donor insemination into one or both partners.

Common options for gay male couples:

  • Use donor eggs and sperm from one or both partners to create embryos, which are then transferred into a surrogate.
  • Use donor eggs and donor sperm to create embryos, transferred into a surrogate.

Understanding the different IVF options will let you choose a path that fits your goals. Same-sex couples often have harder decisions to make deciding which partner will take on which role. Most IVF clinics recommend or require counseling for any couple — it’s important that you and your partner are on the same page with your family-building plan, and that you’re emotionally prepared to handle the roller coaster that is IVF.

Nicole Witt is the creator of Beyond Infertility, a community support site and online magazine geared towards families who have gone through infertility. You can visit the website at She is also the owner of The Adoption Consultancy.

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