Helping lesbians to become families with IVF

With more options available for same sex couples or single women than ever before, starting a family is possible, with a little help from the experts. This blog considers the fertility treatments for lesbians that we offer at IVF-Life UK.

IVF-Life UK welcomes single women and lesbian couples to our Daresbury clinic. We offer a comprehensive range of fertility investigations and treatments to help you have your family, including shared motherhood IVF  Our dedicated and expert team will support you on your incredible journey to create your family.

So, what are your available options for fertility treatments for lesbians?

IUI with donor sperm (D-IUI)

An initial consideration for lesbian single women or couples is intrauterine insemination (IUI) using donor sperm.

How does it work?

You can choose the sperm donor from a list of available donors. We use established UK and overseas sperm banks, and transfer the donor sperm you buy to our laboratory at Daresbury ready for your treatment.

The donor sperm is then used for intrauterine insemination. During this procedure, the sperm is placed directly into the uterus via a small catheter that passes through the cervix.

IVF with donor sperm (D-IVF)

In vitro fertilisation or IVF with donor sperm may be needed or chosen as part of your treatment for you and/or any partner.

How does it work?

You or your partner will go through an ovarian stimulation cycle to encourage the follicles on your ovaries to grow and mature. When the follicles are the right size, an egg collection takes place.  In the lab, an embryologist then mixes the eggs with the donor sperm  using the IVF technique to create embryos.

A few days later, you have an embryo transfer using the best quality embryo with the highest potential for pregnancy. Following this two weeks later you do a pregnancy test.

More than one embryo may be created so you will have the option of storing any good quality embryos for possible future use.

Reciprocal IVF/Shared Motherhood

Shared motherhood is a fertility treatment for lesbian couples which includes both partners in the treatment process. Also known as reciprocal IVF, it gives you both a biological or birth link to your child or children. You will both be the legal parents of your child or children when going through shared motherhood.

If you are considering shared motherhood, then you will both need to have routine screening and investigations. We can also recommend a family law firm with which you can discuss any legal parenthood questions you may have.

How does it work?

One partner will be the egg provider and the other will be the egg recipient. The egg provider will go through a drugs cycle to stimulate her ovaries for the follicles to grow and mature. When the follicles are the right size, you will have an egg collection. The embryologist mixes the eggs with donor sperm using the IVF technique to create embryos.

A few days later, the egg recipient partner undergoes the embryo transfer. This can be done either in a natural cycle or with some medication to ensure the lining of her uterus is at its best for implantation to take place. The transfer can be carried out using fresh or frozen embryos.

IVF treatment with donor eggs and sperm

Occasionally some same sex couples or single women need ‘double donors’ and plan to conceive using both a sperm and an egg donor.

This may be the case for an older woman who wants to try for a baby, or for underlying fertility issues such as early onset menopause. Or maybe a woman’s ovaries have been removed for a medical reason. In these cases an egg donor may provide a better chance of successful pregnancy.

Choosing your sperm and/or egg donors

Whenever choosing a sperm donor for IVF, you may wish for the donor to have specific physical traits. Our dedicated clinical team supports you through the process of selecting the most appropriate donor. You can have peace of mind knowing that the requirements for donating sperm have all been safely met. These include completing specific health and screening checks during and after the donation process.

If you need IVF with donor eggs you can have the confidence that all of our donor eggs are from young, healthy donors. They have been fully screened and counselled, and their eggs are of suitable quality. Donors provide a full family medical history to safeguard you and/or your baby from any potential hereditary and/or medical conditions. Many women like their egg donor to resemble them and can specify some of the donor’s characteristics including ethnicity and general appearance.

Fertility counselling for lesbian couples

Considering fertility treatment can be difficult for any couple and the whole team supports our patients through their treatment But all couples or single women who have treatment with donor sperm, also need ‘implications counselling’ before treatment begins.  This considers, for example, the impact of the outcome of treatment on the woman, or couple, and any existing children. It also considers the availability of support from your wider family, or other issues you would find useful to work through.

Two counselling sessions are included in the fertility treatment packages at IVF-Life UK. This way you know you are completely emotionally prepared for your journey.

Get started today

We have no waiting list for consultations with our fertility specialists. So if you are a lesbian single woman, or a lesbian couple looking for fertility treatment, contact our patient care team and begin your fertility journey today.

Patient story

Watch former patient Jen talk about the ‘care factor’ that she and her wife Karen experienced during their treatment at IVF-Life UK, that led to the birth of their two children. She also explains her reasons for constantly recommending us to her friends.