Today, families are defined in a multitude of ways, and new fertility treatments mean that an individual or couple do not need to have their own eggs, sperm and uterus to have a baby. Egg donation, sperm donation and surrogacy have made it possible for LGBTQ2SIA+ couples and individuals to have children.
Amanda and Sarah were one of the many couples wanting to build a family. Their path to parenthood began in 2018 but things didn’t turn out quite as planned and they had a few bumps along the way. When they decided to start their family, they turned to Olive Fertility for help. “We knew that Olive has been known as a pioneer in LGBTQ2SIA+ fertility treatment and is one of the best fertility clinics in the country,” says Sarah.
“At Olive Fertility, we believe that everyone deserves to have the opportunity to create a family,” says Dr. James Graham, fertility expert and clinical director at Olive Fertility Victoria. “Advances in fertility science, innovative technologies and knowledgeable, compassionate reproductive experts make this dream a reality for many who want to be parents in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.”
The first step for LGBTQ2SIA+ couples or individuals wanting to build a family is to see their family physician or a walk-in clinic for a referral to a fertility clinic.
At your initial consultation, your fertility specialist will go over your family building options with you. There are various approaches to treatment, depending on your circumstances. These include intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), donor sperm, donor egg, gestational carrier, genetic testing, egg freezing and sperm freezing.
“For couples or individuals with eggs and a uterus the process of getting pregnant can be straightforward,” says Dr. Ginevra Mills, fertility specialist at Olive Fertility Victoria. “They can use a known or anonymous sperm donor and have monthly inseminations of sperm into their uterus (IUI). The pregnancy rates for this procedure are high and the treatment complexity is low. For couples and individuals without eggs and a uterus, the process is more complicated, as they need to have donor eggs and IVF with a gestational carrier that has a uterus to carry the baby,” Mills says.
“We initially started with IUI for Amanda but after seven unsuccessful rounds of IUI, we needed a new game plan. We decided to take the leap and go ahead with IVF,” says Sarah. “Amanda went in for the egg retrieval in December of 2020. We were very lucky with the results as they were able to collect ten eggs in total. Of those ten eggs, seven embryos were formed and six were viable.
“Our embryo transfer took place in February. We decided we needed a nickname for the embryo, nothing too personal in case it didn’t take. We settled on ‘Yo-Yo,’ short for embryo and seemingly fitting for all the travel we did to Vancouver for these procedures. The two-week wait for the pregnancy test felt like years. Amanda was sure this procedure failed but when the call came through that the test was positive, both her and I were shocked and overjoyed. Amanda gave birth to our healthy baby boy Theodore in October,” says Sarah.
“The whole process has been a rollercoaster, but every medication, needle and test were worth it when we were able to hold our baby for the first time,” says Sarah.
According to FamilyEquality.org, the number of LGBTQ2SIA+ millennials who are actively planning to grow their families is almost equal to non-LGBTQ2SIA+ millennials (48% vs. 55%). Recognizing that having a family should be available to all British Columbians, a spokesperson for the B.C. Liberal Party said a funding plan has the potential to help an estimated 1,800 B.C. couples — including LGBTQ2SIA+ couples — who seek IVF treatment every year.
Olive Fertility is currently building a full-service clinic with a state-of-the-art IVF lab in Victoria, scheduled to open early in 2023. “We know that travelling to Vancouver for egg retrieval and embryo transfer adds an extra level of expense and stress for patients, particularly during these challenging times,” says Graham. “We want to do everything possible to make the process as easy as possible.”
For more information about Olive Victoria and to book your appointment, visit www.olivefertility.com/locations/victoria. Fertility consultations and most tests are covered by MSP in British Columbia with a referral from a family physician, walk-in clinic, or Telus My Health. Currently patients are able to see an Olive Fertility Victoria fertility specialist within a month of being referred. You can learn more about pathways to parenthood here.