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Same sex couples

If you’re in a same sex couple and want to have a family with a biological connection to one partner, you’ll need to have fertility treatment. Get an overview of what to expect on this page.

  1. If one or both of you have fertility problems you should speak to your GP first. You may be referred for fertility testing and the results may impact on the type of treatment you have.

  2. Same-sex couples with no fertility problems will need to pay for their own treatment. Fertility treatment can be very expensive so be financially prepared.

  3. Your treatment options may include surrogacy, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and surgery.

  4. Depending on your circumstances you’ll need to find a donor, a surrogate or both. Building a strong, trusting relationship with your surrogate or donor (unless they’re anonymous) is essential

  5. If you’re not married or in a civil partnership you’ll both need to confirm in writing that the non-biological parent should be the legal father or mother.

  6. You’ll be going through one of life’s most personal and emotionally-charged experiences with your clinic. Make sure you do your research to pick the right one for you.

Understanding treatment

Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

IUI or donor insemination is the main treatment for female couples who want a family and can also be used to impregnate a surrogate. You can have it with or without fertility drugs and the whole procedure is relatively quick and painless.

Find out more about intrauterine insemination
Two people holding hands with a forest in the background.

Other treatments

Some people with fertility problems, such as blocked fallopian tubes or undescended testes may need surgery to restore their fertility.

Find out more about other treatments

Surrogacy

Surrogacy is the main treatment for male couples who want a family. It involves finding a surrogate who is prepared to carry and give birth to a child for you. You can either mix one partner’s sperm with the surrogate’s eggs or with donated eggs.

Find out more about surrogacy
A woman lying on a hospital bed as a doctor prepares and injection

Using a donor

You'll need to find a sperm or egg donor (or both) to use in your treatment. There are lots of options for finding a donor.

Find out more about using a donor

Getting started

Download our free guide to having fertility treatment. From fertility testing to consultations and more, you'll be prepared for every step.

Find out more about getting started
Cropped front cover of the HFEA Getting Started guide

Looking after yourselves

Even if you don’t have fertility problems, fertility treatment itself can be an emotionally draining process. One in three pregnancies end in a miscarriage, plus there’s the possibility treatment might not work. Make sure you’re talking to family and friends if you need to and consider getting additional support from outside your existing network. Stonewall is a great place to start, or you could consider getting counselling either together or individually. 

Find out more about getting emotional support

Decisions about your treatment

 

There are some important decisions you’ll need to make before you start treatment. If you’re using a donor/surrogate, do you want to ask someone known to you or find someone through a clinic? Whose eggs or sperm are you going to use? Are you thinking about having treatment abroad and are you aware of all the issues? Make sure you’ve thought all the issues through and you’re both comfortable with whatever decisions you make.

Fertility treatment abroad

Using donated sperm, eggs or embryos

Using a private sperm donor

Private sperm donation – where you find a stranger and impregnate yourself without using a clinic – is unregulated and therefore you should be very careful. Donors who donate via a clinic will have to go through tough health tests, they’ll receive proper counselling and all the legal issues will be taken care of. If you use someone you don't know there’s a risk he could be considered the father of your baby, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with that.

Home insemination with donor sperm

Download a leaflet on sperm donation from our partners, Lifecycle.

Legal issues

If you’re not married or in a civil partnership and you want the non-biological partner to be legally recognised as the mother or father of your child, it is essential that you both fill in the correct forms. If you don’t your donor or surrogate could be considered to be the legal parent of your child and sorting that out is extremely time-consuming and expensive. Your clinic will talk you through what’s needed.

Becoming the legal parents of your child

Funding

Fertility treatment can be expensive. If you’re a male couple having surrogacy you’ll have to pay for treatment privately and if you’re in a female couple you’ll need to pay for six cycles of IUI before you qualify for NHS funding (and even then it will depend on what’s available in your area). If you are successful then obviously you’ll have a growing child with all the expenses that come with that so be prepared for the bigger picture. You can find out more information about treatment costs on our intrauterine insemination and surrogacy pages.

Costs and funding

Publication date: 1 November 2017

Review date: 1 November 2019