Building a family is a special journey with so much to consider, particularly when the prospective parents are LGBTQ.
What is essential for any pregnancy is quite simple:
Although it sounds simple, the truth is that many couples or single parents aren’t equipped with all three factors necessary to make a baby. This can be true for heterosexual and cisgender people for a variety of reasons including choosing to become a single parent, low ovarian reserve, uterine issues, genetic conditions, etc.
For lesbian or transgender couples who wish to carry a pregnancy, it’s necessary to obtain one or more of these biological factors elsewhere.
As a lesbian couple, or as a transman, the most common need is sperm from a donor. Once a sperm donor is selected, a sample can be used at a fertility clinic to inseminate an ovulating person via IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).
Donor egg or embryo
If a partner has ovaries but their eggs are not viable, an egg or embryo donor can be a great option. A donor egg or embryo can be implanted into the uterus of the partner who wishes to birth the baby.
Preparing for Conception
When an ovulating person who has been taking contraceptives becomes ready to try to conceive, they will need to discontinue any form of birth control. How quickly ovulation returns after stopping birth control varies greatly. Sometimes the cycle returns immediately, but it can also take some time for the cycle to regulate. It’s important to have regular cycles and healthy ovulation before trying to conceive.
Acupuncture can be a great way to support the return of a healthy menstrual cycle.
Similarly, if a person has been taking testosterone, as many transmen do, they will need to discontinue taking that hormone if they wish to become pregnant. Just like coming off birth control pills or an IUD, a menstrual cycle may return immediately after discontinuing testosterone, or it can take several months. Caring for the transman during this time is critical to their experience and helping them to regulate their cycles as quickly as possible is paramount.
LGBTQ Families and gender affirming care
It’s important for LGBTQ families to know that the biological hurdles they face in making a baby are not dissimilar to those faced by many non-LGBTQ families. One specific concern for gay and trans families that hetero and cis families may not need to consider is that the fertility clinic and providers offer affirming and complete care in respect to their sexuality and gender identities.
Ensuring that the proper terminology is used in reference to biology and anatomy can make the experience less triggering for those who may not feel comfortable with the standard medical terms. For instance, a lesbian who is non-binary may not want to refer to their womb as such and may prefer the term uterus. Or a transman may want to be the gestational parent and birth the baby, and still not use feminine pronouns or descriptions for themselves.
Gender affirming care is especially important in fertility and perinatal care, as so much of the language of pregnancy is tied to historical ideas of gender and sex. In the San Franscisco Bay Area, we have a greater understanding of the unique considerations of LGBTQ fertility and family planning and finding a care provider that prioritizes their patients’ experience shouldn’t be a challenge.
Acupuncture and LGBTQ Parents
Regardless of the route taken to pregnancy, LGBTQ parents can benefit from the supportive care of acupuncture. Whether using one’s own genetics or a donor egg or embryo, acupuncture can help prepare the body for
- egg retrieval
- embryo transfer
Through the relaxing effects of balancing the nervous system, the body can function more optimally. Acupuncture can strengthen the body’s circulation, and with certain techniques, specifically brings healthy blood flow and oxygen to the reproductive organs helping to improve the quality of gametes (eggs and sperm).
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and would like to work with our clinic, you can book an appointment online here: https://theoldershawclinic.janeapp.com/
Autumn Ross, L. Ac., FABORM is a licensed acupuncturist with a primary focus on fertility, chronic pain, and digestive disorders. She is passionate about working with each of her patients to develop an accessible and individualized path to wellness. As a queer woman with Mexican heritage, Autumn has extensive experience working with non-traditional families, monolingual Spanish speakers, and members of the LGTBQI communities.