It’s become increasingly more common for members of the LGBT+ community to become parents. 

How can a same sex couple have a baby?

Adoption and fostering are options, but where individuals or couples want to have a baby that’s biologically connected to them or to their partner, they may need to have fertility treatment. There are a variety of different ways to do this, depending on the sex, age, fertility issues and circumstances of each person.

Donor insemination, IVF with donor sperm, reciprocal IVF/shared motherhood, co-parenting and surrogacy, are some of the options available to LGBT+ couples or individuals.

What is donor insemination?

Donor insemination involves sperm from a donor, being placed into the woman who is going to carry the baby. This is referred to as IUI in the clinics, where the sperm can be screened to check for genetic disorders and infections and the woman is monitored, so that the sperm is inserted as near to ovulation as possible.

What is IVF with donor sperm?

Fertility drugs are given to the female partner to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. The eggs are removed and sperm from the donor is put with the eggs in the lab to fertilise them. After a few days, one, or maybe two viable embryos, can be placed directly into the female partner’s uterus. 

What is involved with reciprocal IVF/shared motherhood?

With reciprocal IVF (also known as shared motherhood) the eggs from one of the female partners (in a same sex couple) can be extracted and fertilised in the lab by donor sperm. Then one or two viable embryos can be inserted into the uterus of the other female partner. This allows both female partners to be more involved in the pregnancy.

What is co-parenting?

Co-parenting is when 2 people (who are not part of the same couple) team up to have a baby together.

What is IVF surrogacy?

IVF surrogacy involves finding a woman to act as a surrogate, who will carry the embryo and pregnancy to full term. In the UK, it is illegal to pay a surrogate, but they can claim expenses and it’s important to incorporate a clause around expenses when formulating a surrogacy agreement. There are agencies that can help with finding a surrogate. It’s also possible to choose to have an egg from an anonymous donor.

What are the legal implications around some of the LGBT+ options for becoming parents?

  • With donor insemination done at a clinic, lesbian couples who are civil partners when the baby is conceived, will both be treated as their child’s legal parents, so will lesbian couples who are not civil partners. However, if the insemination is done at home, if there is no civil partnership at the time of conception, the non-birth mother will have no legal rights and would have to adopt the child to be a legal parent.
  • With co-parenting, neither person has sole custody, so agreements have to be in place, to be clear on how much involvement each parent will have.
  • With surrogacy, until a parental order has been issued (after the birth of the child) the surrogate has the right to keep the baby. 
  • There are also legal implications when using donor sperm. 

What can be done to preserve fertility?

Fertility lessens with age in both women and men, with the chances of a woman becoming pregnant diminishing more rapidly after the age of 35. Certain medical treatments, like chemotherapy, may also affect fertility. This is why both men and women sometimes decide to freeze their eggs or sperm, either before undergoing medical treatment, or while they are still young enough to be fertile, but not ready to become parents yet.

For trans and non-binary people, having medical treatments, including surgery and hormone therapy, can affect their fertility. Therefore, many people in this position, choose to freeze their eggs or sperm, to increase their options for having a child later in life. 

Where can I find more information about my LGBT+ fertility options?

Here at the IVF Network (through our dedicated channel, blogs and website) we offer a range of information and advice on all aspects of fertility, to help you to make informed choices.

The following organisations may also be helpful to you, either on your fertility journey, or once you become parents:


Brilliant Beginnings

Surrogacy UK


The LGBT Mummies Tribe

Two Dads UK

New Family Social

My Surrogacy Journey