A Quick Guide for LGTBQ+ Family Planning

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and thinking about starting a family, you may be wondering what your options are. Know that you have many – so your dream of starting a family is most definitely possible.


The first step in your journey is to gather information, so you can decide which pathways you want to explore further. Here, we summarize the different fertility options available for LGBTQ+ individuals.


Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

IUI is a specialized technique that delivers sperm directly into the uterus. It is sometimes referred to as "artificial insemination" or "assisted insemination." IUI is an option for individuals with a uterus, or for couples where the male partner has mild and moderate deficits in their semen analysis, which can indicate lower concentration (amount), motility (movement), or morphology (shape) of sperm.


How does it work?

IUI allows for better sperm delivery to the fallopian tubes– essentially getting the sperm and egg closer to each other to increase the odds of fertilization. IUI treatments are typically used in combination with medications that increase Follicular development and trigger ovulation. Think of IUI as a triple threat approach: better sperm delivery, perfect targets for the sperm, and ideal timing. 


In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

IVF is a very commonly used method for people of all orientations looking to start a family.


How does it work?

IVF involves three phases:

  • Phase 1: Fertility medications are used to stimulate egg production. These medications are taken either by an egg donor or a person with ovaries who wants to biologically contribute to the creation of their future child. Superovulation and controlled ovarian stimulation in IVF are different. Using superovulation here is confusing. I would leave out or just actually use ‘controlled ovarian stimulation’ as a more accurate terminology.
  • Phase 2:  The eggs from Phase 1 (“oocytes” is the technical term) are collected from the ovaries with a minimally-invasive surgical procedure called an egg retrieval. They are then combined with sperm in the fertility clinic’s laboratory to create embryos. Those embryos are then cryopreserved (a special type of freezing for embryos With the option of genetic testing (this is not routine, it is optional) to prepare them for transfer into the uterus of the carrying person. 
  • Phase 3: In the third and final phase of IVF, an embryo is transferred into the uterus of a gestational carrier or intended parent to try and achieve a pregnancy.


Some female couples may choose to have one partner provide the egg and have the other partner carry the pregnancy (a process called RIVF – see below). This is a more complex treatment as both partners will undergo tests and will take medication to boost their fertility. If you have any questions about this, we recommend you ask one of our Fertility Specialists. Contact us here >


Gestational Carrier

A gestational carrier – also referred to as a “‘surrogacy / surrogates’ – is a person who carries a pregnancy to term for another family. A gestational carrier has no biological link to the individual or couple looking to start a family. This method of family-building is an option for any member of the LGBTQ+ community.


How does it work?

An embryo is created using the sperm from the future father (or sperm donor), and the egg of the biological mother (or egg donor). The embryo is then implanted into the uterus of the gestational carrier, who will carry the baby to full term. A gestational carrier can be someone you already know, or a currently anonymous person that you will connect with.


It’s important to note that in the past, some families were formed using traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate contributed both her eggs and uterus to the process. However, traditional surrogacy is legally complex, as the surrogate is genetically linked to the child in those instances, so this form of surrogacy is much less common today as a result. 


Reciprocal IVF (RIVF)

RIVF is an option for partners who both have uteruses. With RIVF, Partner A donates eggs to Partner B, and then Partner A carries the pregnancy to term. For some LGBTQ+ couples, this is a way for both partners to physically participate in the conception and carrying process and feel more intimately involved in the creation of their child.


How does it work? 

One partner undergoes controlled ovarian stimulation with fertility medications to produce multiple eggs and then has an egg retrieval procedure (both these steps are the same as for traditional IVF).


After egg retrieval, Partner A's eggs are combined with the couple's designated donor sperm in the fertility clinic’s laboratory. The carrying partner (Partner B) then takes special medications to prepare their uterus for an embryo transfer (and hopefully, a healthy pregnancy and delivery). 


Adoption and fostering

Adoption and fostering are also wonderful options to building a family. This can be a complex process, and we recommend you do your research on what to expect.

As you can see, members of the LGBTQ+ have many possible pathways to starting a family. Each comes with its own considerations and costs. A consultation with a Fertility Specialist is the best way to get a full picture on what each involves, and what may be the best path for you. tests can all be organised via the fertility clinic, no pretests are required before attending


Take the first step and request an appointment today.