Forming a family might be demanding and challenging for any couple – and for lesbian couples in particular. They may encounter a lot of added factors and obstacles, including social, legal and logistical issues that may be difficult to overcome. Additionally, the lack of sufficient financial resources is often a serious blockage in the family-building process for same-sex relationships – simply because the so-called ‘traditional’ methods of conceiving children are not available to them.
But in spite of all the possible difficulties, the rise in same-sex parenting is a fact nowadays. In most cases, children of lesbian couples are biological children of one of the women. However, there are also more and more options available for them to realise their dream of having their own baby at home. These include surrogacy, foster care, adoption and – probably the most important – assisted reproductive technology. ART methods do not only make the dream of becoming parents possible but they also allow at least one of the partners to be biologically linked to a child. And thanks to the latest innovations such as the ROPA method and reciprocal IVF, both women are able to share the process of fertilisation in an active way.
However, before any lesbian couple starts to think of growing their family with ART methods, they have to make sure where such options are available to them at all. The fact is that not all countries allow same-sex couples to undergo fertility treatment – and, unfortunately, it refers to some of the most popular IVF destinations as well.
Countries differ when it comes to the legislation that regulates ART and – what is more – the interpretation of the law can vary within a country, too.
The countries that officially allow IVF for lesbian couples are Spain, Finland, Bulgaria and North Cyprus. In Greece and Latvia, women from same-sex relationships are allowed for IVF treatment only if they are treated as single women. The former requires one partner to sign a notary statement (saying that she is going through IVF as a single woman with donor sperm) in order for the treatment to be legally conducted.
After the choice of the best IVF destination is made, then comes the time to choose the most suitable treatment method. And there are several options available.
Probably the mostcommon way for lesbian couples to start their families is through intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination. In this procedure, donor sperm (from either a known or unknown donor) is injected directly into the uterus of the woman who will carry the pregnancy.