The gap between non-LBGTQ+ millennials and LGBTQ+ millennials aspiring to become parents is narrowing, with 48% of the latter planning to grow their families compared to 55% of non-LGBTQ+. This includes an increase in those looking to expand their families through assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to help bring home a biological child.
Why the shift? There are several factors, but from the viewpoint of a reproductive endocrinologist, our industry has done a great job of educating the community on their reproductive options. The Prelude Network® (Prelude) and all of its clinics, including Aspire Houston Fertility Institute (Aspire HFI), have taken this a step further through our commitment to Fertility Care for Everyone, which, in addition to reproductive health education, promises inclusive, compassionate fertility care for every individual, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Landscape of Assisted Reproductive Technologies
There are more options in reproductive medicine today than ever before and these advanced technologies are helping more LGBTQ+ realize their dreams of having a baby.
Let’s review those options available today:
Donor Sperm IUI
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure in which a sperm sample is injected directly into the uterus at the time of ovulation. An aspiring parent can use the sperm of someone they know or decide to utilize the services of an FDA-approved sperm bank.
Donor Sperm IVF
Through IVF, ovaries are stimulated with injectable medications, extracted at the time of egg retrieval, and fertilized with donor sperm to create embryos. An embryo is then transferred into the uterus.
Patients may choose to pursue IVF for a variety of reasons, including family building, genetic testing, or reciprocal IVF. They may also receive an infertility diagnosis or experience recurrent pregnancy loss that requires IVF treatment to build their families.
A good option for same-sex female couples, non-binary couples, and transgender men to be physically a part involved in the journey is reciprocal IVF or co-maternity IVF. Here, one partner provides the egg for in vitro fertilization, and the other carries the pregnancy.
Donor Egg IVF
Donor eggs in vitro fertilization (IVF) is when a donor’s eggs are fertilized and implanted into a uterus. This can be the intended parent or a gestational carrier. This could be a person that the intended parents know, or eggs can be obtained from an FDA-approved donor egg bank.
Most prospective parents who decide to use a gestational carrier do so with the help of a third-party agency. Gestational carrier agencies deeply understand the financial, legal, and medical aspects of this specialized process, making them a great partner for you and your entire fertility care team. A gestational carrier could be from an agency or someone that you know.
You know you want to have a baby but not sure when? Unfortunately, a person’s biological clock doesn’t stop because someone may justifiably not be ready to be a parent. The good news is that there have been significant advances made in reproductive healthcare that are giving aspiring parents more choices as to how and when to build their families, including fertility preservation services such as egg freezing. A recent study in Fertility and Sterility shows that egg freezing is a viable option for those who want to take more control over their reproductive health and have a baby when they’re ready – not when Mother Nature tells them to.
Accessibility to Fertility Care
Financial accessibility is an important factor for LGBTQ+ aspiring parents, as they may face greater insurance restrictions for fertility coverage. This added level of stress compounds the physical and emotional strain of the complex fertility journey.
But there are financial programs to help relieve that stress, including BUNDL Fertility (BUNDL)™. BUNDL is a multi-cycle fertility services bundling program that packages multiple treatment cycles together at one reduced, up-front cost and offers eligible patients a financial guarantee, with up to a 100% refund.
Created by industry professionals who have been on that journey, BUNDL gives patients more financial freedom and allows them to focus on what’s most important: bringing home a baby. Its newest program, BUNDL with Medications, allows aspiring parents to consolidate treatment and medication costs into one plan with the backing of a financial guarantee.
As an REI and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I remember being grateful for the advancements in ART that brought me and my wife our sons. I was equally thankful for the welcoming and compassionate care we received throughout our journey – one that was void of any discrimination that could have made our patient experience less pleasant.
Prelude is proud to reinforce its commitment to Fertility Care for Everyone with three simple words: Accessibility. Inclusivity. Compassion. These are more than just words for Prelude. They’re drivers that direct our approach to providing the best care to every patient who walks through our doors looking to build the families of their dreams.
If you would like to learn more, visit our LGBTQ+ Family Building virtual event, where I address various aspects of fertility, answer participant questions, and offer practical advice tailored to the LGBTQ+ community.
You can also visit aspirehfi.com to learn about how Aspire Houston, The Prelude Network can help you on your family building journey to learn more about your reproductive options and a full list of comprehensive fertility care services in Houston.
About Allison Bloom, DO, MPH
Allison Bloom, DO, MPH is a specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Main Line Fertility, part of The Prelude Network. Dr. Bloom is an experienced IVF provider with a particular interest in LGBTQ+ family building—an interest that coincides with her personal life experience. Dr. Bloom and her wife underwent infertility treatment for more than a year before successfully conceiving with IVF and welcoming twin boys into their family. They are happy to share their story with others looking to start or grow their families.