A sleepy baby
By Noelle Borders, CNM

How LGBTQ+ Couples Can Have a Baby

For LGBTQ+ couples looking to grow their family, assisted reproductive technologies can become pathways to parenthood

According to the 2019 LGBTQ+ Family Building survey, 63% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other (LGBTQ+) millennials are planning to become parents. While health care services and technology have come a long way toward giving LGBTQ+ people options to become parents, the path to parenthood can take more steps than for heteronormative patients.

Health literacy involves a clear understanding of your body and how it works. This is important for good mental and physical health. If you are considering becoming a parent, learn what options will be covered by your insurance. Then, ask your doctor how to get started and what you should expect while planning for a family.

Contact your insurance company to find out what your plan will and will not cover for fertility treatments—such as medications or minor surgical procedures—while trying to get pregnant. Coverage varies based on the individual’s insurance plan.

Systemic discrimination can also cause barriers to family planning, such as:

  • Refusal of services or limited access to services, such as prenatal and postnatal care
  • Feelings of isolation or delays in seeking care
  • Fear of being judged or mistreated

UNMH is an ally for the LGBTQ+ community. This is the mindset our OBGYNs and certified nurse midwives (CNM) carry into every patient interaction. We provide welcoming and supportive inclusive care for all patients. Since 2013, we have been recognized as a LGBTQ+ Equality Leader.

A range of reproductive options and supportive resources can help you realize your dream of building a family. Understanding what options are available and most chosen by LGBTQ+ patients will allow you to make a more informed decision as you move forward.

Depending on your health and your individual situation, you or your partner may be able to carry the pregnancy. Or you can seek help from a third-party, known as a surrogate, to carry the pregnancy for you.

Fertility Treatment Options

Fertility treatments are ways to help with conception when couples can’t conceive on their own (such as same-sex couples). Types of fertility treatments include:

  • Egg donation – A woman can donate unfertilized eggs, which are eggs that have not been fused with a sperm. Eggs are collected from the woman’s ovaries and either frozen or mixed with sperm right away to produce a pregnancy.
  • Embryo donation – An embryo is created when a female egg cell is fertilized by a male sperm cell. Many embryos may be made when a patient is seeking fertility treatment, and some are placed in a woman’s uterus to become a pregnancy. The others are frozen and can be either saved or donated.
  • Sperm donation – A man donates semen, the fluid containing sperm. This substance is released during ejaculation. It is collected and then stored for immediate or future use.

If You or Your Partner Will Carry the Pregnancy

An ovulating woman is a candidate for carrying the pregnancy. Two options are available:

  • IUI (intrauterine insemination): While the birth-giving partner is ovulating, a doctor uses a small syringe, inserting sperm through a thin, flexible tube (catheter) directly into your uterus. The patient will lie on their back for a short time after the procedure, then they can go about normal daily activities. Light spotting may occur for a couple days after the procedure. Pregnancy occurs 6-12 days later, if the procedure was successful. According to the American Pregnancy Association, there is around a 20% success rate for IUI.
  • IVF (in vitro insemination): The birth-giving partner will get hormone injections to help their ovaries release more than one egg in a month (ovulation). The doctor collects eggs from the ovaries, which takes 30-60 minutes. Eggs are then fertilized by sperm in a lab. That process creates several embryos, which the doctor transfers into the uterus with a catheter. Placing multiple embryos increases the chance for success—and having twins or more. After the procedure, the patient stays in bed and can go home 4-6 hours later. Then you will take a pregnancy test two weeks later. There is around a 50% success rate for IVF.

Considering IVF? Try These Lower-cost Infertility Treatments First

The road to discovering your options starts with a visit to your women's health care provider.

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If a Surrogate Will Carry the Pregnancy

A surrogate is a person who carries a couple’s pregnancy. There are no surrogacy laws in New Mexico. You can find a legal surrogate through an attorney who specializes in surrogacy agreements, a surrogacy agency or an independent search. Talk with your attorney about available options for a traditional or gestational surrogacy.

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate provides her own egg. Traditional surrogacy was more common before IVF became available. In gestational surrogacy, both sperm and egg are provided by the intended parents (you and your partner). A pre-birth order is a document naming the legal parents for a child born by surrogacy. This document is used in states with statutes supporting surrogacy or in states with no surrogate statutes.

The New Mexico Uniform Parentage Act does not permit or prohibit the use of a pre-birth order or surrogacy agreement. The intended parents must take the regular steps required to name parental rights. Talk with your attorney for more information.

Surrogacy costs vary, depending on medical procedures needed, legal fees and agency fees. Additional costs include the surrogate’s base pay for time, medical and other expenses.

In New Mexico, there are no laws listing the amount you may pay a surrogate. Your insurance company will cover their expenses, or you will pay them out of pocket. Your attorney can help you determine an accurate amount to budget for.

Resources for LGBTQ+ Families

We believe every patient has the right to high-quality care, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation or relationship status. Our patients receive respect and compassion at every appointment.

Consult these resources for more information about becoming a parent in New Mexico:

For LGBTQ+ couples ready to start a family and raise children, we are here to provide you with answers and supportive, non-judgmental care.

To find out whether you or a loved one might benefit from Ob/Gyn care
Categories: Women's Health