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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 1, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 9
... And baby makes three
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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... And baby makes three

What same-sex couples should know about fertility treatment

by Shaun Kelly - Overlake Reproductive Health

The country is changing rapidly, and same-sex couples are becoming more mainstream all the time - and are increasingly more visible in the general population as well as in the media. The desire for children on the part of these couples has always been there, but with increased social acceptance, the ability to follow that dream has become a lot more real.

There are some obvious issues that have to be addressed when it comes to initiating treatment, but we here at Overlake Reproductive Health are more than happy to treat each couple that presents here. There will be no prejudice against anyone, and you will not be judged for your sexual orientation. In fact, we have treated many same-sex couples over the years, well before the advent of marriage equality anywhere in the country, let alone in this state. As a sponsor of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), the largest and most active LGBT business chamber in the United States, we are ready to move forward into this exciting new phase of equality and acceptance.

INFO FOR WOMEN
For Lesbian couples there are numerous treatment options available, which utilize donor sperm for insemination. We work with all of the major donor sperm banks, and in some circumstances we can even utilize a known donor for your treatment if you desire. The simplest form of treatment would be to carry out an intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which your ovulation cycle is monitored (with or without stimulation medication) and then the sperm is introduced into your uterus to coincide with ovulation.

The main decisions you will have to make in this case are what characteristics you wish to choose for the sperm donor. Most sperm banks have many different ways of helping you work through this decision. The other factor that needs to be determined is who is going to be the one to go through the pregnancy. With some couples it is natural for one of you to have made the decision beforehand. Other couples don't make the decision until they have undergone routine investigations to determine who would be most appropriate for the treatment. Neither case is right or wrong, but some flexibility might be required once the initial testing has been initiated.

In cases where IUI treatment is not suitable, we might go straight to in-vitro fertilization (IVF), in which the eggs are fertilized outside of the body and cultured prior to transferring back into the uterus. In this case you will have to decide who will be the one to undergo the egg retrieval and embryo transfer, although in some cases couples have opted for one to have the egg retrieval so that they can both have a part in the treatment.

All of these decisions are yours to make - we only offer advice, but we can also direct you to counselors if you need further help in making the decision.

INFO FOR MEN
As far as a male couple is concerned there are a few more choices to sort out before treatment can be initiated. There is going to be the need to use an egg donor as well as a surrogate to carry the pregnancy. The egg donor portion of the treatment is a lot easier to locate, as we have a large pool of anonymous egg donors at our clinic as well as through outside agencies. A surrogate can be a little more difficult to locate, but we also can help you in that search, as well as assist with the necessary legal paperwork.

Then there is the sperm that needs to be taken into consideration. We start with a semen analysis to decide if the sperm is suitable to use for treatment. We have private rooms for you to produce the sample in, although you can bring one from home if you wish. (Since most of our clients are straight guys, the magazines and movies in our collection rooms are geared toward them, but we are more than happy to make accommodations. Don't be embarrassed at all!)

We also have to screen the sperm donor for infectious diseases before we can initiate treatment, so as to protect the surrogate from the possibility of disease transmission. This is an FDA requirement.

There is a wide range of legal issues to be taken into consideration as far as same-sex parenting is concerned, and we have access to legal professionals who are well versed in the legal ramifications of this kind of treatment in whichever state you reside. This may include working across state borders, depending on where the egg donor and surrogate come from.

Surrogacy is still a little difficult to work with, as different states have different laws regarding such things as payment. For example, you cannot pay a surrogate directly in Washington state, but you can pay for their health care and reasonable expenses such as maternity clothes. The rules are a little looser in Oregon, and in California it is totally legal to compensate a surrogate with cash.

Shaun Kelly has been the laboratory director at Overlake Reproductive Health for almost 13 years. He was born and raised in England, where he received his degree in biological sciences specializing in cell and microbiology from the University of Plymouth before coming to the U.S. in 1999. He has since completed many advanced training courses on infertility laboratory techniques, and he attends conferences every year to stay current in his ever-advancing field. His hobbies include home renovation projects, various arts and crafts, and being an active father to his young children, Caspian and Max.

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