Struggling with infertility can be a tough journey, especially as it is often full of conflicting information and high emotional stress. This is particularly true for same sex parents, for whom the options are often limited to adoption or In vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Some same sex couples may choose IVF, especially as this gives the option for one or both parents to use their genetic information when having their baby. However, the process of IVF for same sex parents can be a bit complex with lots of scientific jargon to wrap your head around.
When picking the right path forward for you and your family, it is important to have a strong understanding of your options. This article aims to explain the options for same sex parenthood through IVF in Australia.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a very fancy name for a relatively simple concept. It means taking the sperm and egg out of the womb, and allowing them to fertilise while outside of the body (in vitro).
Essentially, this process boils down to IVF for same sex parents giving power to the individuals over when and how to conceive. For same sex couples, who don’t have the requisite either sperm or egg, a few more steps are needed.
When acquiring a donor sperm or egg, choosing the right registry is a really important step for same sex couples and one that is often forgotten when selecting an IVF clinic. The registry that your IVF clinic uses will give you your options for donors, so choosing the right clinic will give you access to the widest range of potential donors and allow you to choose desirable characteristics.
In addition, choosing whether or not one parent will carry the child, or if a surrogate is the right choice, can be a bit more complicated than just whether or not you want to (or have the equipment). The right IVF clinic can also help you to assess whether your chosen womb has any issues like a weak cervix, as well as looking at family history for any indications of pregnancy complications.
With so many important aspects to be thinking about and considering, IVF can be a daunting process. It can be really hard to go through alone, so make sure you have a great support network. Perhaps the most important person in your support network will be your IVF clinic, so choosing the right clinic is a really key step.
What is the IVF process like?
The first step of any IVF process is to have a consultation with an expert to talk through your options. The key focus here is to choose a specialist who has the ability to deliver on any particular requests you may have. This process is the same even in IVF for same sex parents.
For instance, in Australia, gender selection is legislated against, so any couple seeking to have a child with a specific sex may need to travel overseas to do so. Gender Selection Australia offers this opportunity with direct consultations between IVF clinics for continuity of care.
The next steps are to select your donor from the registry, or go through hormone treatments for egg extraction if you have chosen to use your own eggs. This process involves several injections into the abdomen to stimulate egg maturation.
After harvest, the eggs and sperm to be used will be assessed for their health. The chosen egg will then be fertilised in a dish with a specialised injection from an embryologist, before being monitored for several days, and eventually implanted in your chosen womb. This may also require hormone injections to optimally prepare the womb, as well as ultrasounds to look at the thickness of the endometrial lining.
Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGD)
One other really important part of IVF is assessing your embryo for genetic conditions or disorders. This involves taking one of the cells from your developing embryo and doing genetic tests to assess the risk of inheriting a known condition.
This is legislated against as a regular test in Australia, so if you have a particular condition you are worried about but don’t have yourself, it may not be an option for you in regular Australian clinics.
Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGD) is also used for finding out the sex of your embryo before implantation. In most Australian clinics, PGD is not available if you are looking for a specific sex for family balancing or for non-medical reasons.
The Gender Selection Australia difference
The one exception to the rule regarding PGD is Gender Selection Australia. This IVF clinic uses industry connections in Los Angeles (LA) to give you options. Unlike regular medical tourism, the connection between your LA clinic and Gender Selection Australia means that you will be guaranteed continuity of care.
The process of IVF for same sex parents starts with your initial consultation and preimplantation care. This will be given by the Gender Selection Australia team, so you can start the process in the comfort of your own country. Then, you will be flown to your LA clinic for egg retrieval and embryo transfer, before coming home. This process has the strong adva ntage of your pregnancy being monitored by your infertility specialist team here at Gender Selection Australia.
Dr Daniel A. Potter is the lead endocrinologist and infertility specialist here at Gender Selection Australia, and is well suited to talking you through all your IVF options as a same sex couple.
To get started on your IVF journey, get in touch with Gender Selection Australia today!