How can gay women have babies?

Here are six expert tips for gay women who want to start a family of their own

October 17 2018

Find a sperm donor
“Finding a sperm donor isn’t always easy, but you may find you have a gay or indeed straight, single friend who is willing to help and you can then explore the Artificial Insemination or IVF,” says Dr Raewyn Teirney, a fertility specialist, gynaecologist and creator of the fertility kit Conceiveplease.

“If this is the case, it’s important that all parties involved in the conception of the child undergo a medical assessment and pre-natal medical testing, such as screening for STIs (Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhoea and so on) and any vaccinations that may be required.” A pelvic ultrasound and testing of the fallopian tubes to check all is well with ‘the plumbing’ is advised too. The male friend also needs a check-up, with semen testing.

From there, it is possible that you may be able to use artificial Insemination (the old ‘turkey baster’ or ‘syringe’ method at home), but you will need to track your cycle precisely to work out when you are most fertile and likely to conceive

There may be legal consequences down the track here with custody issues, so it’s important that all parties are clear as to where they stand legally in terms of child custody and visitation rights. There are some excellent family lawyers that specialise in this area.

Get sperm from a reliable source
Forget buying sperm online. It’s not only illegal in Australia, but you risk getting contaminated or unhealthy sperm.

“IVF Australia has a dedicated, comprehensive and supportive donor sperm program where women can access sperm from donors who have had a thorough medical work up, genetic testing of over 500 genes and STIs testing- that has been thoroughly tested and is of great quality,” says Dr. Teirney. “I would suggest this is the safest and easiest way of sourcing sperm.”

It is important to note that the sperm donor has non-identifying information, but this identifying information will be made available to the conceived child when they reach 18 years.

It’s also worth noting here that when a man donates sperm and it is purchased via a legitimate donor program, he will have no legal access to the child until it turns 18, which does eliminate any grey areas of custody issues that could arise when going down the path of having a friend donate sperm.

“Once a sperm donor is chosen, this can be used for Intra-uterine insemination into the uterus or though Invitro-fertilisation,” says Dr. Teirney.

Decide who will provide the egg
Deciding which one of you will provide the egg that will become your child can be a difficult decision and sometimes fraught with emotion. When making this decision, it might be wise to speak with a highly qualified counsellor or psychologist who may be able to guide you in the right direction.

“In some cases, for health reasons, the decision may be taken out of the couple’s hands,” says Dr. Teirney. “Typically, though, we do find that each couple intent of becoming mums do have this kind of thing planned well in advance. We always advise them of course to consider the best possible health scenarios and chances of a successful pregnancy and birth when making this decision.”

Consider ‘egg swapping’
This is a beautiful way of creating your family and it involves extracting the egg from the woman who will be donating it, fertilising it and implanting it the womb of the other partner in the relationship. “It’s a very special way of them both sharing in that child and them really bonding as a family,” says Dr. Teirney. “We actually do this a lot at IVF Australia and it is a really beautiful, magical outcome.”

Track your cycle
Whether straight or gay, it is so important for all couples to be aware of tracking the cycle of the female who will be carrying the baby. Nobody knows your body better than you do, but even your body can surprise you, especially when you’re trying to become pregnant.

According to Dr. Teirney, “accurate techniques to track your most fertile window include monitoring basal body temperature, measuring changes in luteinising hormone levels in urine and observing for changes in cervical secretions.

“These techniques can help take the guesswork out of tracking your ovulation cycle, so you’re aware of when you are most likely to conceive. Couples who have a better understanding of their fertility window have a better chance of falling pregnant.”

Look at egg donation
In the unlikely, but not always uncommon, event that both women in the relationship are unable to provide a viable egg, there is always the option of egg donation. IVF Australia has a specialist team that can help facilitate this.