the ins and outs, the pros and cons
When gay men and lesbians make the decision to have children, it’s rarely, if ever, a question of “why”? It’s the overwhelming question of “how”?
Artificial insemination is often the choice for lesbian couples because it’s relatively easy, it’s inexpensive when compared to adoption, the timing can be on your timetable, and you’ll know a lot about the medical history of both parents.
Now, with that said, there’s a LOT to consider with artificial insemination…
- How Do You Get This Process Started?
- Known donor or an anonymous sperm bank?
- “Turkey baster” at home or in a clinic with a doctor?
- If you opt for the doctor’s help, do you use ICI or IUI?
- What legal issues do you need to consider?
Lesbian Artificial Insemination 101
First, and foremost, the woman who will be carrying the child should definitely go to a gynecologist for a pap smear. At the VERY least, you want to know that you have all the necessary equipment (we had a friend who tried insemination for 2 years only to find out later that she has no left fallopian tube).
Additionally, you will want to be tested to make sure that you are immune to Rubella and do not have any Stds or HIV. Though this may seem unnecessary for some, even if there is a one-tenth of a percent that you could test positive for any of these, it could mean SEVERE risks to your unborn child. It is definitely worth it.
Your doctor will most likely test your progesterone level after your menstrual cycle to make sure that you are indeed ovulating. If you find out that you are not, they can do several things to stimulate ovulation, and we don’t have to tell you – if you’re not ovulating, any attempts at artificial insemination would be a waste on the pocketbook and an even bigger drain on the emotions.
After your doctor gives you a clean bill of health, he or she will more than likely prescribe a prenatal vitamin for you and tell you to increase your intake of folic acid (this has been proven to greatly reduce the risks of some birth defects including neural tube defects and spina bifida).
If you’ve decided to use a sperm bank, ask your doctor which one he or she recommends. Most likely their office has a history with one or more cryobanks and can give you some great advice.
Known donor or an anonymous sperm bank?
When choosing a donor, there are several things to consider. And only you can decide
what is best for your family.
Obviously, knowing the donor gives you some advantages such as knowing what they look
like, having access to their family’s medical history, and having the possibility of their
involvement in your child’s life (if you want that).
On the other hand, there may be some real disadvantages you must consider before forging ahead. Your known donor may have some communicable disease you are not aware of or be a carrier for a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis. SO HAVE ANY DONOR TESTED THOROUGHLY regardless of how well you know him.
Additionally, if the donor later decides he wants more visitation than you had originally agreed upon, that can get really ugly. To avoid this, have your donor sign a donor agreement.
Using a sperm bank provides you with absolute autonomy, a sense of security (in the sense that no man can ever take your child away), a large selection of ethnic, educational, and personality profiles, and thorough screening tests.
Home Insemination or a Clinic?
This decision will depend on a few factors including cost, privacy, and personal preference. In our discussions with lesbian couples who have conceived, there seems to be a much greater success rate when seeking the assistance of a physician.
To learn more about how to do artificial insemination at home, the different methods available to you, and the risks associated with each, please visit Fertility Plus.
**No information on this site is meant to be construed as medical advice. Please remember to consult the advice of a physician to discuss such techniques and the risks involved with each.
ICI or IUI – What’s the Difference?
Either way, your doctor will place a catheter into your vagina for the purpose of inserting the donor sperm. ICI stands for intracervical insemination and means that the catheter is placed in your cervix. IUI stands for intrauterine insemination and means that the catheter is placed in your uterus.
Neither is painful. Some women have light cramping with the IUI, but report that it’s no different than mild cramps from menstruation.
Both methods are viable, however, IUI does have a slightly higher success rate over ICI.
What legal issues do you need to consider?
**Please note that the recommendations made here are not to be construed as legal advice. And we strongly recommend you seek the advice of a competent attorney when dealing with ALL legal matters.
There are many important issues that need to be addressed and taken care of BEFORE your child is born (before conception would be even better)…
- A co-parenting agreement should be signed to protect the rights of both parents and to ensure that the child will be raised per your requests should something happen to one of you.
- If you are using a known donor and you wish for him to waive his parental rights, you need to have him sign a donor agreement. This will relieve the possibility of any headaches in the future, should the donor develop a deep relationship with the child and later change his mind about the level of involvement he wishes to have in the child’s upbringing.
- It is always a good idea to have a domestic partner agreement in any committed relationship. This ensures that you and your partner are protected in the event of death or separation. These documents typically determine property ownership, expected duties and chores, and disbursement of income.
- Now that you will have children dependent upon you for their every need, it is of the UTMOST importance that you have at the very least a will, and a living will is not a bad idea either.
If you die without a will, your partner will face an unbelievably intricate web of legal battles and may very well get nothing in return. To make sure that your property and personal belongings go to the people YOU want, instead, of the court’s wishes, take this very important legal precaution!
A living will is a medical directive that communicates to your loved ones and your care givers exactly what your wishes are concerning life-sustaining measures.
Learn more about state-specific living wills by consulting a lawyer in your area.