Fertility options for female same sex couples

Deciding to start a family is a big step. As a same sex female couple Bourn Hall offers you a number of fertility treatment options, including IUI or IVF using donor sperm.

We can help you find a sperm donor and give you access to a regulated sperm bank, which provides greater assurances to you as a couple.

Another treatment option for same sex female couples is Shared Motherhood. This treatment option enables you to both share a role and the experience of pregnancy.

Treatment options

Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination, or IUI, is the placing of your prepared donor sperm into your uterus at the time of ovulation. This ensures that the timing is right and the sperm are close to where they need to be.

It is straightforward and painless. There is no egg collection involved with IUI, but fertility drugs may be needed to stimulate egg production and ovulation. Using fertility drugs is thought to make IUIs more likely to work.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF)

In vitro fertilisation, better known as IVF, is the bringing together of eggs and sperm in a carefully controlled environment to generate high-quality embryos. This is an option you may wish to consider, and will be the treatment you will receive, if you are following a shared motherhood journey.

To stimulate egg production and prepare your uterus to receive the embryos you will follow a personalised treatment and dosage plan of IVF drugs.

During this time you’ll need to visit one of our clinics for scans and blood tests – usually up to four times. We’ll monitor you closely to assess your response to the medication, suggest any potential modifications to your treatment, and decide when to proceed to egg collection.

Egg collection is a minor surgical procedure, carried out by one of our specialists. It is performed vaginally using an ultrasound guidance. We immediately pass the collected eggs to our on-site embryology laboratory.

Following the fertilisation of your eggs with your donor sperm, we transfer either one or two of the resulting embryos to your uterus. Then, around 2 weeks after the egg collection, you’ll be able to take a pregnancy test. If that is positive, you should attend the clinic for an early pregnancy scan.

Donor sperm

Whatever route you choose, you will need a sperm donor – we can help you find a donor, or you can find one on your own (with our support and advice).

We will go into the legal implications of using the sperm of somebody and what is expected of donors, recipients and donor-conceived children. Counselling for recipients of donor sperm is highly recommended. Bourn Hall has a choice of specialist counsellors available to support you.

Despite the national shortage of sperm donors, we run a number of initiatives to support our own sperm bank. Sperm from our bank is rigorously screened and only released for treatment after a qualifying quarantine period. Alternatively, we collaborate with a network of high-quality sperm banks and can help you with the selection process.

We additionally have a sperm-sharing programme. Men, whose partners go through fertility treatment, are encouraged to share their sperm with others, as long as they fulfil the same strict health and performance criteria applied to all donors.

Apart from receiving sperm from an anonymous donor, you have the option of providing your own potential donor (known donor). We will assess your candidate for sperm donation, using the same criteria applied to all donors. If they pass the necessary checks, they will be able to proceed with sperm storage. The sperm can be released for use 3 months after the last storage, as long as the ‘exit’ health check is normal.

For patients receiving donor gametes (sperm or eggs) or embryos, who are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, it is important to ensure that the legal parenthood of both parties is properly established. The HFEA has produced a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide that you can download here.

Shared motherhood

Bourn Hall are pleased to offer the opportunity of shared motherhood. This treatment is where we fertilise the collected eggs from one of you with donor sperm, and then your partner receives the embryo and carries the pregnancy. Shared motherhood is a wonderful way for you to share the experience of pregnancy as a couple and for you both to play an essential role in your family journey.

This process would involve both partners undergoing scans, appointments and a stimulation process, with one partner going through the IVF process to produce eggs. These are then fertilised with your donor’s sperm in the embryology laboratory, before the embryo is transferred into the womb of the other (female) partner to carry the pregnancy.

Fertility packages and funding

We have created a Shared Motherhood package that includes the main treatments that you would require. These include:

  • Donor screening
  • Recipient screening
  • IVF Treatment Package
  • Embryo Freezing (if necessary)
  • One fresh or frozen embryo transfer as appropriate

We also offer packages for the most popular fertility treatments, including IVF, IUI, and FET.

With Bourn Hall you can also choose to fund your treatment through a range of pre-paid plans with our partner Access Fertility. Access Fertility helps to take the uncertainty out of the cost by offering fixed price treatment packages. These include:

Whilst Access Fertility funding isn’t available to cover the whole Shared Motherhood package, their fixed price packages can cover part of the cost of the shared motherhood package.

For further information and a breakdown of Fertility Access’ programme prices, click here.