Sometimes people conceive a child by accident, whether it's through a lack of birth control or a failed contraceptive. But the opposite also is quite common. Often, a couple or individual who's ready to have a child runs into difficulties and needs assistance. LGBTQ+ couples also might seek the assistance of fertility clinics.
If you're having trouble conceiving a child, you should first speak to your doctor. They will arrange for a series of tests for you and your partner. These tests will establish the nature of the problem if it is one related to your biology and reproductive capacities assigned at birth.
Assisted reproductive technology provides a variety of options for people who cannot have children on their own, whether due to infertility or other obstacles. From artificial insemination to fertility treatments, such technologies can provide solutions for you and/or your family.
Below you'll find information about infertility and questions you should ask a clinic you're considering for family planning services. Specifically, you'll find some important questions to ask the staff at a fertility clinic.
Infertility: The Basics
Infertility is a condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had:
- One year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse; or
- If the woman or person biologically assigned female at birth has suffered from multiple miscarriages and is under 35 years of age
If a woman or person who was assigned female at birth is over 35 years old, infertility is often diagnosed after six months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse. There are multiple options for those with fertility issues, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and medication. But the exact treatment depends on your specific condition and desired outcome. The IVF cycle can be a complicated process. It's important to consult with your doctor about issues related to IVF.
The following are some of the medical conditions that can affect fertility:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Tubal disease
- DES exposure
- A variety of conditions affecting the ovaries, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
It's important to keep in mind that some mental health conditions can mimic the symptoms of permanent infertility. For example, depression or anxiety can cause a person to stop menstruating. It's important to check with your doctor and seek expert medical advice to determine the cause of any symptoms you may be experiencing. If it turns out that you are infertile, you can seek out reproductive services at a fertility clinic.
Fertility Services for the LGBTQ+ Community
The biological inability to have children is not merely a question of infertility. LGBTQ+ couples experience a different set of obstacles when it comes to reproduction. But couples within the LGBTQ+ community can have children of their own with the assistance of a fertility clinic.
For example, a lesbian couple might choose reciprocal IVF. In this process, one partner donates an egg (which is fertilized with donor sperm) and the other carries the pregnancy. This allows both partners to share in the experience. Same-sex male couples might seek fertility care through surrogacy.
As trans-visibility has grown, so too has awareness of the needs of transgender individuals when it comes to having children. There are many treatment options, regardless of your gender. These treatment options are legally available to everyone, regardless of whether they are a same-sex couple or in a partnership involving persons of any gender. Transgender people are protected by law in their use of fertility clinics.
Common Fertility Clinic Services
Fertility clinics offer a variety of services, including:
- Gestational surrogacy
- Egg donation (including anonymous donor eggs)
- Sperm donors (including anonymous sperm donation) or sperm banks
- Egg retrieval
- Egg freezing for fertility preservation
- Embryo transfer, which involves the implantation of an embryo
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
A fertility specialist can also conduct diagnostic testing, such as semen analysis.
In some cases, the fertility center can use your (or your partner's) eggs or sperm. But perhaps, you've done genetic testing and found that you or your partner are predisposed to a genetic disorder. In that case, you might want to use another person's genetic material instead of your own. This will involve using another person's sperm and egg to conceive a child through surrogacy.
State law generally requires that parties whose sperm or eggs are used cannot be related. Exceptions might be made for those more distantly related than second cousins. It's important to check your state's laws for more information.
Under certain plans, you can use health insurance coverage for treatments using assisted reproductive technology. It's important to review your insurance policy to see if the treatment you are looking to undergo is covered.
Questions To Ask a Fertility Clinic
If you're unable to conceive naturally, there may be various options available to you, including using a surrogate, adoption, or seeking the help of an infertility clinic. This can be a very emotional and stressful time. Unfortunately, some entities will either lack understanding or take advantage.
If you're considering fertility treatment or another medical treatment related to reproductive health, you may wish to ask the following questions at your initial appointment:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many patients have you treated?
- Are you or your doctors board-certified? In what specialties and/or subspecialties?
- What is your overall success rate?
- How is your success rate calculated?
- Do you have written materials about your practice and procedures that we can review?
- In view of our medical history, are there particular procedures that you recommend?
- How much experience do you have performing these procedures?
- How much do these procedures usually cost?
- How much do the required drugs cost?
- What portion of these costs is generally covered by our insurance company?
- How must payment for any uncovered expenses be made?
- What is your success rate for couples experiencing the same problems as ours or undergoing the same treatments?
- What is our overall chance of conceiving a child?
- Do you provide services for fertility preservation?
- What are the costs of your fertility testing procedures?
Whether you find a clinic on your own or through a third party like a surrogacy agency, it's important to cover these questions when you are choosing a facility. It is also important to ask them during your initial consultation. You can find such clinics on your own.
Talk to a Family Attorney Before Seeking Help From an Infertility Clinic
When embarking upon the path to parenthood that involves issues of infertility, many legal concerns may arise. The support and advice of an experienced family law attorney is, therefore, invaluable. Third-party reproduction provides a variety of options for building a family. Whether by IVF or a gestational carrier, modern medicine provides a variety of solutions for any person that cannot have children on their own. Gestational surrogates add to the variety of fertility options.
But in certain surrogacy arrangements, it can be more likely that a person faces a legal dispute around parental rights. Before the child's birth, it's important that you make sure you do whatever you can to prevent such disputes from occurring.
A skilled lawyer who specializes in handling family matters can help you ensure that your and your family's legal rights are protected. If you have questions about what to ask an infertility clinic or have other concerns, consider contacting an experienced family law attorney for expert help.