IVF Process Overview
For gay couples, family building requires working with an egg donor and gestational carrier to achieve family building goals, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) will be the procedure used to achieve this. IVF is one form of assisted reproductive technology and it is performed by a reproductive endocrinologist.
Choosing an IVF clinic and understanding the IVF process are important parts of the surrogacy and egg donation journey that can either occur successively or concurrently. Below is a breakdown of the major steps including considerations of the IVF process for gay parents-to-be.
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Surrogacy is one part of your family building equation. It is important you research and choose an accredited, reputable IVF clinic and physician. They will play an important role in the creation and transfer of an embryo that will grow into your future child.
After you’ve selected an IVF clinic and physician you’re comfortable working with, the next step is to pick an egg donor. Before you begin looking at egg donor profiles, create a list of the ideal characteristics and physical traits you wish your donor to embody. Traits to consider could be:
- Eye color
- Hair color
- Racial and ethnic backgrounds
- Family history
- Personality traits
Once your egg donor has successfully passed screening, she will begin taking medication to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. The eggs are then retrieved once they reach the desired size and maturity.
Everything created in the IVF lab is well documented and identifiable. Sperm of both intended fathers cannot be mixed and then randomly used to fertilize an egg. As a couple, you can choose to have all retrieved eggs fertilized by just one intended father’s sperm or divide the eggs and fertilize them with sperm from each intended father.
After deciding who will be providing the genetic material to create an embryo, you will travel to your IVF clinic to supply a sperm sample. Your clinic will conduct a sperm analysis to assess quality and the best method for fertilization. Approximately 2% of men may require further medical assistance due to poor sperm quality. You can engage in certain lifestyle choices to impact the quality of your sperm including no smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, limiting medication use (under the care of your physician), regular moderate exercise, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
The most viable sperm will be combined with the egg donor’s egg to create embryos in the lab by an embryologist. The embryos will be observed over five days. The embryos will undergo pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) to ensure the embryos are genetically normal. Making sure the chromosome number is correct will increase the live birth rate of the IVF process.
Health is always our number one priority when considering our intended parents, their baby, the surrogate mother, and the egg donor. Not all embryos are created equally and you will want to select the embryo with the best chances of successfully implanting and growing into a healthy baby. One of the ways to select the embryo with the highest likelihood of a successful pregnancy is through genetic testing. Through Pre-implantation Genetic Testing (PGT), your physician can identify chromosomal abnormalities. An additional bonus of PGT is you’ll be able to select the sex of your baby.