Pregnant womanLearning the options and the process of becoming a parent can be daunting.

Starting a family is a hugely exciting decision, however, learning what the options are and the process of becoming a parent can be daunting.

Rainbow Fertility specialist Dr Marcin Stankiewicz said the good news is that there are now so many choices for lesbians who want to start a family.

“Advances in assisted reproductive technologies mean the options are now much broader and more successful than in the past. They include fertility treatments and preservation, donor programs, donor insemination, IVF and surrogacy,” Dr Stankiewicz said.

Listed below are a few of the important decisions that need to be made, and the facts you need to understand if you are lesbian thinking of starting a family. However, it is important to note that most decisions need to be made with your partner and in consultation with your doctor. Your personal circumstances, medical history and previous attempts to conceive (where relevant) will often help determine the best treatment path for you.

Selecting a sperm donor

One of the first things a lesbian woman or couple undergoing fertility treatment will need to do is choose a sperm donor. Sperm donors are classified as either “known” or “clinic-recruited” depending on the type of relationship between donor and recipient.

A “known donor” is where the sperm donor’s identity is known e.g. often a friend or family member. “Clinic-recruited” donors are where the identity of the donor is unknown although identifying information is available when the child reaches 18 years (or younger, depending on the relevant state legislation or regulations). Clinic-recruited donors are only available through a fertility clinic.

Consideration can also be given at this point as to whether you would like to reserve any sperm from the same donor for a possible future sibling. Further information about selecting sperm donors can be found here

Deciding who will carry the baby

A lesbian couple needs to decide who will carry the pregnancy. Personal preference and existing medical conditions can influence who will carry the pregnancy. Sometimes a decision to pursue Partner IVF will help decide how you will share the baby-making process.

Partner IVF
Partner IVF is an option for lesbian couples where both partners want to be physically involved with the conception of the baby. The eggs are retrieved from one partner and fertilised with donor sperm and the resulting embryo is transferred into the uterus of the other partner who then carries the pregnancy.



Donor Insemination (DI)

Donor insemination (or Intra-Uterine Insemination) is a simple, less invasive and lower cost fertility conception method. Frozen donor sperm is thawed and inserted in the uterus of the woman carrying the pregnancy. Anaesthetic is not required and the procedure is quick and usually painless – many women describe it as similar to a Pap smear.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

IVF is a more complex fertility conception method used to treat a fertility problem that has failed to respond to other medical or surgical interventions. During an IVF cycle, the ovaries are stimulated to produce more eggs than a natural cycle. The eggs are then collected and fertilised with donor sperm. The healthiest embryo is transferred into the uterus of the woman carrying the pregnancy. The procedure requires mild sedation and you are able to go home the same day.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

ICSI is a technique developed to maximise the chance of fertilisation and is recommended for people who have had poor or no fertilisation during standard IVF. A single sperm is injected directly into an egg. As with IVF, the healthiest embryo is transferred into the uterus of the woman carrying the pregnancy.


Rainbow Fertility is Australia’s first dedicated LGBTI fertility and IVF service provider in Australia with locations in Adelaide, Brisbane Coast, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney.

To discuss the best options available for you, call our Rainbow Fertility’s advice centre for a confidential chat on 1300 222 623 or click here.

For more information about family building for lesbians go to