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4 Pregnancy Options for Queer Women

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Conceiving as a queer woman or couple might seem overwhelming at first, but it comes down to three key elements: sperm, egg, and a nurturing environment for the egg to grow. Once these basics are covered, you can explore how you want to get pregnant. There are four main pregnancy options for queer women: intracervical insemination, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and reciprocal in vitro fertilization.


This article dives deep into these methods, exploring their procedures, success rates, and costs. With this information, you'll feel more confident selecting the one that's right for you.


Pregnant queer women

Intracervical Insemination (ICI)

Intracervical insemination (ICI), also known as intravaginal insemination (IVI), is a fertility treatment that imitates traditional heterosexual intercourse. Unwashed, liquified semen, is loaded into a needless syringe or cervical cap. From there, it’s inserted into the vagina and slowly emptied at the cervical opening. 


Unlike other fertility methods, ICI can be done at home. Mosie Baby and Frida Fertility make affordable, easy-to-use at-home insemination kits to help with this procedure. 





If you’re uncomfortable performing the procedure at home, a doctor or medical professional can do it in their office. Typically, they’ll use a catheter with a syringe attached to the end to perform ICI.


Success rate

As with other fertility methods, factors such as your age, overall health, and any fertility medications you're using can influence the success of ICI. With that said, a 2015 study demonstrated that the success rate of ICI is 37.9% after six ICI cycles.


Cost 

Of all the fertility options available to queer women, ICI is, without a doubt, the most affordable option. Factoring in things like sperm, ovulation predictor kits, and syringes, you can expect to pay between $200 and $350 per attempt. 


However, if you opt for washed or donor sperm or have a doctor perform the procedure, the price will be higher. 


Things to think about

Timing is crucial when attempting to get pregnant via ICI. It requires understanding your ovulation cycle, which typically occurs monthly when a mature egg is released from one of the ovaries. Contrary to popular belief, fertilization usually happens in the Fallopian tubes rather than the uterus or ovaries.


Since sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for 48 to 72 hours, they should begin their journey toward the Fallopian tubes before ovulation. This ensures they're in the right place at the right time to fertilize the egg. Using an ovulation predictor kit can help you identify your most fertile period, increasing your chances of conception.


Beyond timing, it's important to note that ICI is only suitable for those with a healthy uterus who ovulate and have at least one functioning Fallopian tube.


When it comes to selecting sperm, you can use either unwashed or washed. While there's no evidence suggesting that one is better than the other, many people choose the unwashed option because they believe the extra seminal fluid helps sperm travel into the uterus. Unwashed is also the more cost-effective option.


 

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as donor insemination, alternative insemination, or artificial insemination, involves a doctor inserting washed sperm directly into the uterus. This shortens the distance the sperm needs to travel to reach the egg, boosting the chances of conception.


You may be prescribed fertility medications before undergoing IUI. Common medications include Clomiphene citrate (Clomid or Serophene), letrozole (Femara), hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin), and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). These medications stimulate ovulation and produce multiple eggs, further increasing the chances of pregnancy. However, not everyone needs medication, so check with your doctor. 


Success rate

Several factors, including your age, overall health, the timing of the procedure, and the quality of sperm, influence the success of ICI. For those under the age of 35 with good health and two functioning Fallopian tubes, the success rate per cycle can be as high as 13%. However, for those aged 38 to 40, the success rate per cycle decreases to around 9%.


It's worth highlighting that combining IUI therapy with fertility drugs can significantly increase success, with pregnancy rates ranging from 15% to 25% per cycle.


Cost 

The cost of IUI varies based on factors like the fertility clinic you select, your insurance coverage, the use of fertility medications, and any necessary diagnostic tests (such as bloodwork and ultrasounds). 


Without insurance, expect to pay between $300 and $4,000 per cycle. If you choose to use donor sperm, you’ll pay an additional $700 to $1,000 per vial for testing and storage.  


Things to think about

Just like with ICI, being aware of your ovulation cycle is crucial for getting pregnant via IUI. Using an at-home ovulation predictor can help you track your cycle effectively and identify the best time for the procedure.

Something else to keep in mind is that ICI requires washed sperm. Washing sperm involves removing chemicals, impurities, and abnormal sperm from the seminal fluid. Besides enhancing the sperm's fertilizing capacity, it's essential for your health and safety. Unwashed sperm contains prostaglandins, which can cause severe and painful cramping, as well as bacteria that may lead to infection.


 

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Compared to ICI and IUI, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a more invasive procedure. During an IVF cycle, the person trying to conceive takes fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries, encouraging egg development and the production of multiple mature eggs. Once the eggs mature, a doctor collects them from the ovaries. These eggs are then fertilized with sperm in a laboratory setting. The resulting healthy embryos are transferred into the uterus, where they’ll ideally implant and lead to pregnancy.


Success rate

Like other fertility methods, the success of IVF depends on several factors, notably your age and overall health. Women under age 35 are most likely to get pregnant; however, the average success rate of IVF on the first attempt is between 20% and 35%. 


Cost 

Thanks to all of the medications, doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and surgeries, IVF is an expensive procedure. Even with insurance covering some of the medications and tests, you could end up spending upwards of $20,000 for a single IVF cycle. Subsequent cycles using previously frozen embryos can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.  


Things to think about

IVF demands significant time, emotional energy, and financial investment. For these reasons, you need to plan carefully, understand the process, and adjust your budget. Additionally, you might want to check out LGBTQ+ fertility grants to help defray the cost. Finally, be aware that IVF substantially raises the likelihood of conceiving multiples. 


 

Reciprocal In Vitro fertilization (RIVF)

Reciprocal IVF offers a unique path to parenthood for female-female couples. In this procedure, one partner donates her eggs for fertilization, while the other carries the pregnancy. This allows the partner providing the eggs to establish a genetic link with the child, while the partner carrying the pregnancy nurtures a biological connection during gestation.


Reciprocal IVF follows a similar process to conventional IVF, including ovulation induction with fertility medications, egg retrieval, laboratory fertilization, and embryo transfer. However, unlike conventional IVF, the embryos are implanted into the uterus of the partner carrying the pregnancy, rather than the donating partner's uterus.


Success rate

Age has the most impact on RIVF success rates, with women under 35 having the highest likelihood of success. Beyond that, your overall health, lifestyle choices, and the quality of the donor sperm all determine whether or not you’ll get pregnant. 


More specifically, The American Pregnancy Association estimates that women under 35 have a 41% to 43% success rate. These rates continue to drop with age, with women over 40 experiencing a 13% to 18% success rate. 


Cost 

Reciprocal IVF ranges from $5,500 to $30,000, with an average cost of $20,000. These costs vary greatly and depend on factors like your fertility clinic, your insurance coverage, sperm donor costs, and add-on services like genetic testing.   


Things to think about

While RIVF offers an opportunity for both partners to participate in the pregnancy, it can be pricier than conventional IVF. This is because both partners are required to take fertility medications, undergo diagnostic testing, and attend doctor appointments.


If you’re considering this method, you should familiarize yourself with state laws regarding parentage. In some cases, the partner donating the egg may need to legally adopt their biological child to ensure equal parental rights with the partner carrying the pregnancy.


 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you're considering intracervical insemination, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, or reciprocal in vitro fertilization, there are lots of options available to help you realize your dream of starting a family. 


For even more advice and support, download the Gay Moms Club app


 

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By signing up for a Club Membership, you’re not just supporting a vibrant and growing community; you’re also empowering small business within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Embrace diversity, support local entrepreneurs, and be a part of a movement that fosters inclusivity, one membership at a time.

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