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Working for Progress in LGBT Fertility

Steven Brenner, MD

May 2018 - The fertility needs of gay and lesbian people both overlap those of traditional couples and are unique to these persons. For lesbian couples most often insemination with donor sperm is the only treatment needed as this is the single element lacking. However a lesbian woman may suffer from any of the abnormalities that lead to infertility such as tubal and ovulatory dysfunction. Evaluation and treatment for fertility in these individuals need to recognize these issues and be geared to address any abnormalities identified. Unfortunately many insurance companies do not support treatment with donor sperm and evaluation for fertility in lesbian women unless they have failed numerous pregnancy attempts with self-paid insemination cycles. This can be an enormous barrier for lesbian women and their families.

Gay men require more to establish their families as both eggs and a uterus are lacking with regard to fertility. In this situation four individuals are involved, namely: the intended parents, an egg donor (usually anonymous) and a gestational carrier. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to form the embryos, which are placed into the gestational carrier. The techniques involved, well established over decades, using IVF for traditional couples, are the same ones utilized.

The legalization of same sex marriage has not fully worked its way into protecting each person's interests in their children should divorce occur. Different rights depending on state laws may be applied to the biologic parent in a same sex marriage and certainly if the couple is not married. The legal rights of all the individuals involved in this type of treatment must be thought about and protected. Fertility practices treating the LGBT community must be geared to addressing these unique needs. RMA Long Island IVF prides itself in providing such care and recognizing the intense desire that any individual or couple may feel to have a child.

Legislation in New York State is being considered that addresses the fertility needs of both traditional couples and, single individuals as well as impacts the needs of the LGBT community. The bill, known as the Fair Access to Fertility Treatment Act (FAFTA), will be voted on again in the coming weeks. We encourage support of this bill. More information regarding the bill and ways to communicate your opinion on it to your legislators can be found at the website for the Coalition to Help Families Struggling with Infertility.

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