Third Party Parenting
Pacific Fertility Center, located in Northern California's San Francisco Bay Area, is proud of the fact that we have helped so many of our patients in the LGBTQ community to create families. Same sex couples will need the help of sperm donors or egg donors/gestational carriers to have a child. These options include:
- IVF with egg donation and a gestational carrier for gay male couples and single men
- Sperm donation for lesbian couples and single women
- IVF with one partner as gestational mother and one as genetic mother for lesbian couples
Family Building for Gay Men
Family building for gay men will require IVF with the use of a gestational carrier and an egg donor. "Surrogate" or "gestational surrogate" is an older term for what we now refer to as a "gestational carrier." A gestational carrier is a woman who accepts to bear (or be pregnant with) the embryos created from the eggs of another woman. For gay men, the egg provider is either an anonymous or known egg donor. The gestational carrier provides a host uterus for the offspring, and does not contribute genetic material, i.e. is not the egg provider. Typically, the eggs donated by the donor are inseminated in the In Vitro Fertilization laboratory with the sperm of one or both of the male partners. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the uterus of the gestational carrier, who has been taking hormones to shut off her own ovulation and to also prepare her uterus for receipt of the embryos.
Pacific Fertility Center will refer the prospective intended parents to a Gestational Carrier agency that assists intended parents in selecting a gestational carrier. Some intended parents may have a family member or close friend that volunteers to be a gestational carrier. We still require an agency as intermediary. There are strict guidelines that we follow to ensure that this is a safe and efficient process for all involved parties. We do not recommend loose relationships or attempts to locate potential gestational carriers online without going through a gestational carrier agency. This is an intensive process that requires exacting adherence to FDA regulations and national guidelines and should not be undertaken without significant experience and expertise.
In addition, Pacific Fertility Center is able to assist with egg donation through our own in house Egg Donor Agency. Additionally, we will also support and coordinate cycles if a patient chooses an egg donor through another agency or wishes to use a known donor.
Family Building for Lesbian Women
For lesbian women, the options for conception include:
- Sperm donation and intrauterine insemination using sperm from a bank, or from a known sperm donor, with or without the use of fertility-enhancing medications
- IVF with donor sperm with one partner providing eggs and gestating the pregnancy
- IVF with donor sperm with one partner providing the eggs and the other partner gestating the pregnancy, sometimes referred to as IVF Co-Maternity
If a sperm donor is required, we can provide referrals to reliable sperm banks. Depending on the age of our patients and other possible fertility factors, we may or may not recommend adjunctive treatment with fertility medications.
If the patient wishes to use a known sperm donor, there are several requirements, including compliance with all infectious disease testing as required by the FDA, a physical exam and psychological counseling for the donor and recipient couple. Additionally, we require freezing the sperm specimen in advance of the treatment cycle. We also strongly recommend a legal agreement when possible co-parenting relationships are expected. Learn more about using a Known Sperm Donor.
If one thinks they might be a candidate for IVF, please see our IVF Tour.
For lesbian patients interested in IVF Co-Maternity, we will stimulate one partner to produce the eggs as per standard IVF treatment protocols. The final event for the egg-providing partner is the egg retrieval. While the egg-providing partner is undergoing treatment with the egg-stimulating medications, the other partner will take Lupron, estrogen injections and progesterone injections to shut off her own ovulation and prepare the uterus for receipt of an embryo. She will then undergo the embryo transfer procedure 3-5 days after her partner has had the egg retrieval procedure. The baby will have the genetic make-up of the egg providing partner and the sperm donor and the gestating partner will carry the pregnancy, give birth and breast feed the infant. We do recommend legal agreements so that both mothers can be listed on the birth certificate.
Family Building for Transgender Individuals
Although more rare, we have had opportunities to work with transgender individuals to accomplish conception. This might involve Intrauterine insemination or In Vitro Fertilization, with or without the involvement of third parties. The treatments will, of course, depend on the individual circumstances. Please contact our New Patient Coordinators to setup a complimentary telephone consult to speak with one of our physicians.
Traditional Surrogacy and Adoption
Classic or traditional surrogacy involves the use of a third party to carry a baby to term. In classical surrogacy, the surrogate also provides the egg (in contrast to a gestational carrier who only carries the pregnancy). The intended father provides the sperm.
Traditional surrogacy and adoption services are not provided by Pacific Fertility Center.