The following article has been re-published with permission from www.rainbowfertility.com.au
Starting a family is a very exciting decision, however learning what the options are for gay men and the process to becoming a parent can be daunting.
Rainbow Fertility specialist, Dr Andrew Davidson, said the good news is fertility treatments associated with surrogacy have advanced considerably.
Listed below are some of the important decisions that need to be made, and the facts you need to understand if you are a gay man or couple thinking of starting a family. However, it is important to note that most decisions need to be made with your partner and in consultation with your doctor. Your personal circumstances, medical history and previous attempts to conceive (where relevant) will all play an important part in determining the best path for you.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy refers to an arrangement where a woman (the surrogate) agrees to conceive, carry and birth a child for others (the commissioning or intended parent/s) to raise. A surrogate can assist either gay couples or single gay men in their attempt to become parents.
In this case the surrogate provides her own eggs and is therefore genetically related to the child. With traditional surrogacy the surrogate can achieve a pregnancy either through Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) with sperm from the intended gay parent(s) or from a sperm donor.
In this case the surrogate has no genetic link to the baby. Through the process of IVF, the egg (from a separate egg donor) is fertilised in the lab with sperm from the intended gay parent(s) or from a sperm donor, and the embryo created is then placed into the uterus of the gestational surrogate in order to achieve a pregnancy.
Finding a surrogate
In Australia, surrogacy must be altruistic as commercial surrogacy is illegal and you cannot advertise for a surrogate. However, often some gay men and couples are lucky enough to have a friend or female family member willing to donate an egg or carry the pregnancy.
You may also find a surrogate through your networks, through word-of-mouth or other means. It may be that a friend-of-a-friend has been considering acting as a surrogate for some time and offers when she hears of your experience. Some people say, potential surrogates are everywhere they just need to know you are looking. You may also find it helpful to contact Gay Dads Australia (gaydadsaustralia.com.au) and Families Through Surrogacy (www.familiesthrusurrogacy.com.au) for further information.
Using an egg donor
If you have got a surrogate lined up but they won’t be using their own eggs to conceive, you’ll need to find an egg donor. Egg donors are classified as “known” and “clinic-recruited”.
A “known donor” is where the egg donor’s identity is known eg. often a friend or family member. “Clinic-recruited” are where the identity of the donor is unknown although identifying information is available when the child reaches 18 years (or younger, depending on the relevant state legislation or regulations). Clinic-recruited donors are only available through a fertility clinic. Further information on our egg donor program can be found on www.rainbowfertility.com.au
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
During an IVF cycle the ovaries are stimulated to produce more eggs than a natural cycle. The eggs are then collected and fertilised with the sperm. The healthiest embryo is transferred into the uterus of the surrogate carrying the pregnancy. The procedure requires a mild sedation and the woman is able to go home the same day.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
ICSI is a technique developed to maximise the chance of fertilisation and is recommended for people who have had a poor or no fertilisation during standard IVF. A single sperm is injected directly into an egg. As with IVF, the healthiest embryo is transferred into the uterus of the surrogate carrying the pregnancy.
For more information about family building for gay men go to www.rainbowfertility.com.au
To discuss the best options available to you for starting a family talk to one of our experienced fertility specialists on 1300 222 623.
Rainbow Fertility has a responsibility to provide Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) based on relevant state or federal laws and guidelines. All individuals/couples are encouraged to obtain their own legal advice regarding the relevant legislation applying to their circumstances.
Listen: Fathers Jayson and Aaron talk about their journey to welcome their son Roman into the world.