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Sperm costs for lesbians

Capital is the key to conceiving for lesbian couples, study finds

Published on September 28th 2010.


Sperm costs for lesbians

Lesbians who turn to sperm donors to conceive are finding it easier to do so, but only if they can afford it, according to a new study.

Even five years ago, many couples were turned away from clinics because they were lesbians. But even though it is now easier in some respects, the huge cost of fertility treatment in clinics excludes many.

Despite laws which now make it easier for lesbians to use IVF clinics, researchers at The University of Manchester have found that many couples are still forced to use the internet or friends to find men willing to help them have children because of the prohibitive cost of using fertility treatment.

Previously, clinics could turn down lesbians due to the ‘need for a father’ but the law was changed in 2008. Dr Petra Nordqvist and her team carried out a series of 25 interviews with lesbian couples over a one year period to monitor the use of IVF clinics.

She said: "The findings of the study accurately reflect the experience of lesbian couples who want to conceive.

“No data is available to show how common it is for them to have children using donor conception following changes in the law - and other factors - but attitudes have shifted drastically making it far easier.

"Even five years ago, many couples were turned away from clinics because they were lesbians. But even though it is now easier in some respects, the huge cost of fertility treatment in clinics excludes many.”

According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates fertility treatment in the UK, the average cost of one cycle of IVF including drugs is between £4,000 and £8,000.

Couples wealthy enough to use this method are protected by law from donors who may later demand access to the child. However, couples who use private means to find donors are more vulnerable to conflicts about custody and access after the birth.

The interviews also revealed how, like heterosexual families, lesbian couples crave being conventional, but also that they go to extraordinary lengths to protect their children from stigma.

Dr Nordqvist added: "Like most families, lesbians base their choice of donor on things like ethnicity, family resemblances, facial characteristics and levels of education.

"But couples who cannot afford clinical treatment sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to anonymise the process – for example not exchanging surnames and addresses with a donor found on an internet chatroom.”

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