THE BLOG
06/30/2016 03:50 pm ET Updated Jul 01, 2017

Family Planning Options For LGBT Couples

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For some in the LGBT community, determining how they can start or even grow their families with the help of fertility experts is a process sometimes fraught with obstacles. I'm happy to say that in my nearly 30 years as a fertility doctor, third-party reproductive options have come a long way. And my colleagues and I are proud to work with lesbian, gay and transgender individuals and couples to raise awareness of these options -- and to help them choose what's best for them.

When deciding on the fertility clinic to use, individuals should first do their homework by researching success rates, determining whether or not the providers have access to the latest fertility treatments and third-party reproductive services, and even whether the fertility practice is considered by others to be LGBT-friendly. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation recognizes almost 500 fertility centers nationwide as "Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality." Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ), where I work, is a repeat recipient of that honor, having met key criteria like patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members.

These are questions any individual should ask when choosing a fertility clinic:

  • Does the clinic have a friendly and professional staff?
  • Do you have a high level of comfort with the physicians and support staff?
  • Do the facilities seem comfortable and welcoming?
After choosing a fertility clinic that is right for them, LGBT individuals will undoubtedly have many questions for the reproductive specialist they'll be meeting with about the options available. In these discussions, we present couples with the following third-party reproductive services, which will ultimately be combined with in vitro fertilization (IVF):
  • Egg donation
  • Gestational carrier
  • Donor sperm

When choosing which service is best, another key decision that should be discussed ahead of time is determining whose DNA a child will receive. While one partner is typically responsible for this, it is possible for both partners to be involved, as is the case with many of our RMANJ patients. Female couples are able to have their child carry their genes by having one donate the egg while the other carries the baby to term.

Since insurance coverage for these services is still relatively sparse -- only 15 states require coverage for fertility services -- I strongly urge individuals to check with their provider as a first step. Those who are interested may also wish to check with other independent, third-party resources, such as the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) or FertilityIQ.com, for a second opinion on these service providers.

Starting a family is no small feat. And among some in the LGBT community, the misconception may still exist -- that the only way to start or grow a family is through means other than assisted reproductive technology. We are happy to clear up that myth -- and, more importantly, my colleagues and I are proud to play a small role in helping people start or grow their families.