What You Should Know About LGBTQ Family Planning

If you’re in a same-sex or nontraditional gender relationship, having a biological child takes a little more planning than if you were in a heterosexual couple. The good news is that there are more options than ever for LGBTQ would-be parents to have the children they dream about.  

If June’s Pride Month celebrations have made you realize that there’s no better way to celebrate your identity than by expanding your family, our providers can help you assess your options. Ranked by Newsweek as the top fertility clinic in the country for a second year in a row, Weill Cornell Medicine’s Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine has specialists who will support you every step of the way. 

LGBTQ Couples (and Single Parents) Can Start Families 

Reproductive medicine has come a long way in the past few decades, as have gay rights. Now that same-sex marriage is legal, there are more protections in place for LGBTQ families, which means more families are having kids. 

“If you look at statistics today, the number of LGBTQ couples wanting children or who have children has risen from 40% to now almost 80%,” says Georges Sylvestre, M.D., OBGYN and assistant professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “It is much easier than it used to be, as more insurance plans cover artificial reproductive technology.” 

Options for Would-Be Parents With Uteri 

For younger lesbians or trans and non-binary people with a uterus, having a child typically involves finding a fertility clinic and a sperm donor, testing for fertility, and undergoing intrauterine insemination (IUI) during ovulation. This process is closer to traditional conception in that sperm (rinsed of seminal fluid) is placed directly in the uterine cavity.  

However, older people may need in vitro fertilization (IVF), which has a better success rate than IUI when egg quality may be in question. During the IVF process, eggs are retrieved from the ovary and implanted with sperm in a lab. If embryos develop, they are then placed in the uterus, which will hopefully continue to grow the fetus. 

Some lesbian couples choose IVF even when fertility is not an issue and use the eggs of the other partner to create embryos. Doing so allows each partner to carry a child with the other’s DNA.  

Options When You Don’t Have a Uterus 

Gay couples or trans and nonbinary people who do not have a uterus face a slightly more challenging path to conceiving a child. Although many families may choose to work with an adoption agency, conception is an option for those who can afford it.  

“Many men choose to work with a surrogate gestational carrier via a surrogacy agency, which has a typical wait time between six months and two years,” Dr. Sylvestre says. “These days, surrogates are not also egg donors; they just carry the embryo to term. So they will undergo IVF using a male partner's sperm and a chosen egg donor, who may be a stranger or a family member of the couple.” 

Surrogacy is also an option for other couples when IVF has not worked. 

Committed to Your Fertility Journey 

At Weill Cornell Medicine, we are focused on you and your journey to parenthood.  

“As a gay man and a parent, I know that the LGBTQ community makes phenomenal parents,” Dr. Sylvestre says. “In the U.S., around half of heterosexual pregnancies are unplanned. But for LGBTQ parents, all our kids are planned and desired. So, if you want to become a parent, go ahead and give it a try. It's much easier now than it used to be.” 

If you’re ready to start expanding your family, Weill Cornell Medicine is here for you. Find a doctor.