Medfem Fertility Clinic has long been treating single and same sex couples wanting to start a family, and indeed we were one of the very first clinics in South Africa to do so. In this time we have helped many single and same sex couples in their wish to have healthy babies. Our caring and supportive medical staff are committed to offering all our patients the best chance of having a baby regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. We are a progressive and impartial innovative fertility clinic with a long history of working with non-traditional families (same-sex couples, and single men and women).
We know that fertility options and issues facing single men and women and gay couples may be quite different from those available to traditional families. In addition to a host of medical treatment options that require a deep understanding, there are financial, legal and emotional obstacles that require special attention and knowledge. At Medfem Fertility Clinic we are committed to supporting our single and gay patients through the entire process of creating their family, whether it is in selecting an egg or sperm donor, coordinating egg donation, or assistance in evaluating a gestational carrier.
Reproductive Options for Lesbian or Single Women
Artificial Insemination with Donor Sperm
In the vast majority of cases reproductive options for lesbian couples or single women involves sperm donation only. After an evaluation of the intended recipient’s reproductive function the basic treatment course is artificial insemination with donor sperm. Donor insemination is a simple procedure, which requires the pre-selection frozen sperm from our sperm bank, or from a known sperm donor. A known sperm donor will normally require a full panel of infectious disease screening followed by a six-month quarantine of frozen sperm and then retesting of the donor for infectious diseases, before sperm can be deemed eligible for insemination.
The sperm bank at Medfem Fertility Clinic boasts an extensive list of screened anonymous sperm donors to include information such as ethnic background, body build, eye colour, hair colour and skin tone as well as education, profession and hobbies, among other details and attributes.
The chosen donor sperm is purchased in vials, and can be stored and thawed as required. Insemination can be performed during a natural menstrual cycle or a cycle in which ovulation is enhanced by oral medication such as Clomid or Fertomed, or injectable ovulation induction agents that can significantly increase pregnancy success and often shorten the duration of treatment.
Combining Sperm Donation with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be performed in women of advanced reproductive age or those experiencing tubal factor or other types of infertility. In IVF a woman’s ovaries are stimulated with hormone injections to induce the growth of multiple eggs at once. This is followed by an egg harvesting procedure which is conducted under light sedation. The eggs are then fertilised with the donor sperm to create embryos which are transferred into the recipient’s uterus three to five days later. Click here for more information on IVF.
Many of our patients who are engaged in a lesbian relationship choose to share the treatment and parenting experience. In this case one woman will act as the gestational carrier while the other serves as the egg donor.
Embryo freezing is also an option for single and lesbian women who do not wish to have children at the present time. In this case the woman can choose a sperm donor that is appropriate for them and then undergo IVF treatment followed by embryo freezing.
This is an excellent option for those who are worried about the future availability of a particular sperm donor, or if they are reaching advanced maternal age (>35 years old), in which case older eggs may have a reduced capacity of fertilisation.
For further information on embryo freezing click here.
Reproductive Options for Gay or Single Men
Reproductive care for gay couples and single men requires the services of both an egg donor and a gestational surrogate. There are two types of surrogacy:
- Traditional surrogacy is when a woman (called a surrogate mother) carries and delivers a pregnancy conceived with her eggs for a couple. After the birth she gives the child to the intended parents with whom she has a contract. In traditional surrogacy, pregnancy may be achieved via insemination of sperm (intrauterine insemination/artificial insemination), using one individual or a combination of both men’s sperm. Traditional surrogacy is a simple and relatively inexpensive treatment option, which can achieve pregnancy with little coordination and through basic fertility treatments. If more conservative treatments such as mid-cycle intrauterine insemination (IUI) fail, a traditional surrogate may be treated with more advanced techniques such as ovulation induction (using oral or injectable medications) with IUI or IVF.
- Gestational carrier surrogacy is when a woman (called a gestational carrier) becomes pregnant after an embryo is transferred into her uterus. The embryo was created from another woman’s eggs, and so the gestational carrier is not genetically related to the child. After birth, she gives the child to the biological mother and/or father. Because this process involves coordination between the intended parents, the egg donor, and the gestational surrogate, this treatment option tends to be more involved than traditional surrogacy. The treatment process involves stimulating the egg donor’s ovaries to produce multiple eggs, harvesting of the eggs, fertilisation of the eggs with sperm, and embryo transfer into the designated surrogate’s uterus.
- Egg donors may be anonymous or non-anonymous. In non-anonymous egg donation, if the egg donor is related to one of the men in a gay relationship, sperm from the other male partner is used to fertilise the eggs, creating a genetic link in the offspring to both intended fathers. Success rates of gestational surrogacy combined with egg donation are high however the process is more costly than traditional surrogacy.
- At Medfem Fertility Clinic, our extensive experience in third-party reproduction (egg donation, surrogacy) also means we work with reputable egg donation agencies, providing our gay couples and single men with the best in reproductive choices. Our team of specialists and our psychologist will administer further extensive screening of prospective egg donors and surrogates on behalf of our patients, before determining eligibility, to ensure a safe and healthy outcome.
- We recommend that you seek the appropriate legal advice prior to your treatment to prevent any future difficulties arising regarding parenthood and your rights. Counselling is attended as a routine part of any surrogacy arrangement with ongoing support available.
Known sperm donation
You may have a single female or lesbian friend who would like you to become a sperm donor for them. This would make you a ‘known donor’ rather than an anonymous donor to unknown recipients. At Medfem Fertility Clinic we can help you and your female friend(s) to have fertility treatment.