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Fertility for same sex couples in the UK

When looking at starting or growing your family as a same sex couple, it can feel a bit difficult. At TFP, we believe everyone should have the chance of having a family, and we’re here to help you. Below you can find some information on our LGBT options: male-male couples and female-female couples.

Gay couple men kissing

Male couples


Expanding your family as a same sex male couple involves you having someone else carry your baby in an agreement known as surrogacy.


Surrogacy is where a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby for a couple who want to have a child but can’t. The ‘surrogate’ is the woman who carries and gives birth to the child for the intended parents.


There are two different types of surrogacy that parents-to-be can choose from:


·         Partial Surrogacy: This is also known as straight or traditional surrogacy and involves fertilising the surrogate’s egg with the intended father’s sperm. As a result, the surrogate will be the biological mother of the child. This can be done via Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or IVF depending on the fertility assessment. 


·         Full Surrogacy: This is also known as host or gestational surrogacy and is when the donor eggs are used for conceiving a child. This means there is no genetic connection between the baby and the surrogate. Full surrogacy will always need to be done via IVF.


The key stages are:

  • Decide which partner will provide the sperm

  • Decide on the eggs you will use. If you want to do full surrogacy, you will need to find a source for some donor eggs, such as from TFP Fertility’s Donor Bank

  • Find a surrogate to carry your child. You cannot advertise (nor can they) but there are introduction agencies that can help you

  • Get counselling and legal advice for you, your partner and your surrogate

  • Go through IUI or IVF at an authorised clinic depending on what surrogacy arrangement you have with your surrogate

  • Be involved with your surrogate’s pregnancy based on your agreement

  • Once your baby is born, organise a transfer of legal parenthood through adoption or parental order

Surrogacy can seem complex, but we are here to support you. We have a full page dedicated to surrogacy, including resources and links for support groups.


 Lesbian couple

Female couples

Your Fertility Journey

IUI, IVF and Reciprocal IVF

There are three key questions you will need to ask yourself as a same sex lesbian couple:


·         Where will your sperm come from?

·         Whose eggs will you be using?

·         Who will carry the pregnancy?


With regards to treatment, there are three main options, based on your choices and your needs after a fertility assessment:


3.    Reciprocal or Partner IVF (aka “shared motherhood”)


Your therapy choice will be informed by how you feel about the first three questions, and on your medical health.

Finding a sperm donor

The first stage is choosing where your sperm will come from.

Choose a sperm donor

There are two types of sperm donors:

1.    Altruistic donors are men who have donated their sperm with the aim of giving someone the opportunity to have a family. They will not know who they have donated to, or the details of any children born with the help of their donation. Once any children born reach 18 years of age, UK law allows that young person to access information that could lead them to find out the identity of the donor, if they wish. 

2.    Known donors are people who agree to donate sperm to an individual or couple they know. Because all parties involved know each other’s identities, and perhaps know each other quite well personally, it’s important to give this option careful thought, as there could be emotional implications for all parties. We always strongly recommend counselling for everyone involved.

You can find more details on our donation page and includes details on our TFP Fertility donor bank to access our list of Altruistic sperm donors.


Once you have decided on the type of sperm, you will need to consider the type of treatment. Personal preference, your age and existing medical conditions often influence who will carry the pregnancy and what treatment will be needed.  

Lesbian couple

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) (also commonly known as artificial insemination or sperm insemination) involves placing screened, prepared and concentrated sperm directly into the womb via a fine catheter, or a tube that is inserted into your bladder. It can only be done when the partner who is providing the eggs is also intending to carry the pregnancy.

It can be performed on a natural cycle without using fertility drugs, matched to the woman’s ovulation cycle, and is the closest to a ‘natural’ conception. It can also be done on a stimulated cycle where the partner carrying the pregnancy takes fertility medication to increase her egg production.

This option is the least invasive, has a low risk of side effects (especially a natural cycle) and has the lowest financial cost associated with it.

You can find more information on our IUI page

Two young women

In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment is when eggs are collected from your ovaries, and then combined with prepared sperm in a laboratory. Once your eggs are fertilised, they are cultured, or artificially grown, in an incubator, and after five days one or two of the resulting embryos are transferred back to your womb where they hopefully develop as a natural pregnancy.

IVF is appropriate for when the partner who is providing the eggs is also intending to carry the pregnancy. IVF may be recommended if attempts with IUI have previously been unsuccessful, if the partner undergoing treatment has fertility issues such endometriosis (when tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus) or difficulties with ovulation, or is over 36 years old.

IVF is a more intense procedure than IUI. You will need to take medication to suppress your hormones and then daily injections to stimulate your ovaries to grow several follicles (which contain your eggs). Egg retrieval is a surgical procedure that takes place under anaesthetic (usually a form of anaesthesia called ‘conscious sedation’), and the whole cycle will take somewhere between four to six weeks.

You can find more information on our IVF Page

IVF lab equipment

Reciprocal IVF

Also known partner-assisted IVF, shared motherhood, partner IVF or co-IVF, reciprocal IVF is where one partner acts as an egg ‘donor’ to the other, allowing both partners to participate biologically in the pregnancy.

In this process, one partner goes through the process of stimulation and egg retrieval. The eggs will be inseminated with donor sperm in the laboratory.

The other partner, who will be carrying the pregnancy, will often simultaneously be using HRT to prepare the lining of the womb to allow a fresh embryo transfer. This is the same process that a woman would go through using donor eggs.

You can find more information on our IVF Page

Pregnant lesbian couple

We look forward to hearing from you!

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