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6 Tips for Queer Women Trying to Conceive

Updated: Feb 12

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LGBTQ family planning is uniquely complex. Unfortunately, these challenges are made worse by misinformation and a lack of inclusive healthcare practices. While we can’t overhaul the entire system, we can provide valuable tips for queer women trying to conceive. These insights aim to empower and guide, fostering informed decision-making, financial readiness, and a positive healthcare experience.

Please note: these tips are written for cisgender queer and lesbian women looking to carry their own children. We’ll cover TTC for trans and nonbinary folks in another article. 

Lesbian couple

1. Check in with Your Health As Chuck Pagano, the former head coach of the Indiana Colts, wisely said, "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything." So, before diving into the process of trying to conceive (TTC), it's a good idea to invest a few months in prioritizing your well-being.

On a basic level, that means incorporating regular exercise into your routine, eating a nutrient-rich diet, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake. You should also definitely quit smoking if you haven’t done so already. 

☑️ Exercise Regularly

☑️ Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet

☑️ Get Enough Sleep

☑️ Manage Stress

☑️ Start Prenatal Vitamins

☑️ Monitor Your Cycle

☑️ See Your Doctor

❌ Reduce Caffeine Intake

❌ Reduce Alcohol Intake

❌ Quit Smoking, Duh

In addition to these basic healthy behaviors, start taking prenatal vitamins about three months before TTC. These vitamins are beneficial because they contain high levels of folic acid and iron. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in the fetus, and iron supports placental development and oxygen transport.

Another important step is to monitor your menstrual cycle for at least three months before attempting to conceive. This can be done by keeping a written record of your cycle, tracking your basal body temperature, or using at-home ovulation predictor tests. Understanding your most fertile days allows you to plan your insemination schedule strategically, increasing your chances of successful conception.

Finally, schedule a comprehensive physical examination with your healthcare provider to ensure you are in optimal health for pregnancy. Inform them about your plans to conceive and ask about any recommended blood tests or screenings. Also, confirm that all your immunizations are up to date.


2. Deep Dive into Your Finances

Ovulation tests, sperm vials, insemination devices, legal fees — becoming a parent as a queer woman comes with a bunch of additional costs straight couples never have to worry about. Costs vary depending on location and insemination method, but queer women trying to conceive could easily end up spending $4000 or more for sperm vials and a single round of intrauterine insemination (IUI), and that’s on the low end of the spectrum. 

Couple reviewing their finances

Then, once you get pregnant and the baby arrives, there are doctor’s appointments, hospital bills, diapers, car seats, and baby clothing to think about. To say that it’s expensive is an understatement. That’s why getting your finances in order is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success as a queer woman trying to conceive. Here are some simple steps to put yourself in a solid position:

☑️ Create or edit your budget

Take a close look at your finances to see if there are opportunities to save money (e.g. order less takeout, cut subscriptions, or buy generic products). 

☑️ Explore fertility treatment grants

Many organizations offer LGBTQ-friendly fertility grants. Here are a few to check out: 

☑️ Start or grow your emergency fund

Make sure you have 6 to 12 months of expenses saved in a high-yield savings account. 

☑️ Pay off debt

You don’t have to be completely debt-free to bring a child into the world, but it’s a smart idea to pay off as much high interest debt (7% interest or higher) as possible.  

☑️ Open a savings account for baby-related expenses 

☑️ Review your health insurance coverage

Call your insurance plan to see what (if any) fertility treatments are covered under your plan. Also, ask about additional coverage you might need for maternity or pediatric care.  

☑️ Understand parental leave

Talk to your HR representative about your employer’s parental leave policies and make a plan for income gaps during this period. 

☑️ Research childcare costs

Find out how much coverage you need and see what daycare or a nanny will cost. 

There’s a lot to think about when organizing your finances, so get in touch with a financial advisor if you have questions.


3. Find LGBTQ-friendly doctors and medical facilities

Did you know that 36% of cisgender lesbians reported feeling uncomfortable talking to their healthcare provider about fertility? These findings, reported in the 2019 Modern State of LGBTQ+ Fertility study are illuminating (and just a tad depressing, if we’re being honest). 

Dealing with one of the most important health decisions in your life shouldn’t make you anxious or scared. That's why finding LGBTQ-friendly doctors and medical facilities is so important.

Lesbian couple embracing

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory is a great place to start. It's a database of providers committed to healthcare equality and culturally competent care for LGBTQ patients.

You can also ask your local queer community for recommendations. If that's not an option, try the Gay Moms Club app, where city-specific groups can help you find LGBTQ-friendly doctors in your area.

When it comes to finding a fertility center, look for certifications of LGBTQ-inclusivity like the Healthcare Equality Index or the Open Door training offered by Family Equality.


4. Decide on a sperm donor 

Selecting the right sperm donor is a crucial decision when you’re a queer woman trying to conceive. The two main options are an anonymous donor from a commercial sperm bank or a known donor, which comes from someone you know. Here are some things to keep in mind about each type. 

Anonymous Donor:

  • An anonymous donor provides sperm to a commercial sperm bank.

  • The child and parents typically won't know the donor's identity, unless an "open donor" option is chosen, allowing the child to contact the donor after turning 18.

  • An anonymous donor should align with your preferences and health considerations. For example, it's essential to evaluate familial health risks to ensure the donor doesn't have overlapping risk factors.

  • You can choose between ICI (intracervical)-ready sperm or IUI (intrauterine)-ready sperm. ICI sperm is typically cheaper because it’s unwashed (meaning it contains things like sugar and citric acid). IUI sperm is washed, and therefore more expensive. 

Known Donor:

  • A known donor is usually someone you know personally, and the process is often low-cost or cost-free.

  • Legal documents and agreements are necessary to protect both the parents and the donor.

  • Known donors should be tested for sexually transmitted infections and genetic diseases before using the sperm sample.


5. Decide which insemination method to try 

The positive (and negative) thing about insemination methods is that there are a lot to choose from. Thankfully, you aren’t limited to trying just one, but you should decide where you want to start. Let’s see what the options are:

Intracervical insemination (ICI)

Sperm is inserted directly into the cervix using a small, needleless syringe or a cervical cap. This method is the least expensive and least invasive of all and is usually performed at home with a fresh known donor sample. 

Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Sperm is placed directly inside the uterus by a healthcare professional using a speculum and a catheter. It requires washed sperm and a trip to the doctor’s office, so it’s typically more expensive than ICI. However, its success rate is often higher than ICI. 

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

Eggs are fertilized with sperm outside of the body, then inserted into the uterus. It is more expensive and invasive than ICI and IUI and is usually only performed when other methods have proven unsuccessful. 

Reciprocal IVF

One partner provides eggs, which are then fertilized in a lab with donor sperm. The embryos are then implanted in the other partner, who carries the pregnancy. This option is also invasive, but it allows both partners to participate. 

Lesbian couple hugging

6. Connect with LGBTQ family resources 

In between saving money, doctor’s visits, and insemination attempts, trying to conceive as a queer woman can feel isolating. Thankfully, there’s a growing number of resources out there for queer moms-to-be that will make you feel less alone in your fertility journey. Some of our favorites include:


  • Queer Conception: The Complete Fertility Guide for Queer and Trans Parents-to-Be

  • Baby Making for Everybody: Family Building and Fertility for LGBTQ+ and Solo Parents

  • LGBTQ Family Building: A Guide for Prospective Parents

  • Journey to Parenthood: The Ultimate Guide for Same-Sex Couples

  • If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We've Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family

  • And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families


  • Gay Parents to Be - An in-depth website about fertility options and costs.  

  • Meet the Wildes - An award-winning blog about the ups and downs of TTC and raising kids as a lesbian couple.

  • Gay Moms Club - A website and app dedicated to providing support and community for LGBTQ+ moms through chat forums, curated content, and virtual events. 


  • The Gayest Show on Birth - Couple Karyne and Kate discuss their reciprocal IVF journey, pregnancy, and queer parenting. 

  • The Queer Family Podcast - Queer mom Jaimie chats with weekly guests about their pregnancy and parenting stories. 

  • Lez Be Moms - Lindsay and Lana share their pregnancy and birth stories, as well as amusing parenting experiences. 


Putting It All Together

The journey of conceiving as a queer woman involves tending to your health, finances, donor decisions, and insemination methods. It’s a lot to consider, but you’re not alone. From books and blogs to Gay Moms Club, you’re surrounded by support. Take the process one step at a time and most of all, try to relax and have fun!

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