We caught up with Guy Ringler MD of California Fertility Partners in Los Angeles to talk about the changing landscape of family building and how he has witnessed continued improvements for the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to starting a family.
Guy is a fertility doctor who identifies as gay. The following story shares his unique perspective of the fertility industry’s evolution over the past twenty-five years and how the landscape for prospective gay dads and the wider queer community is ever-evolving.
“I’ve been helping men have babies through egg donation and surrogacy for over 25 years. There have been many changes over that time, and it’s never been a better time to be a prospective gay dad.
Probably the biggest change I’ve seen is success rates. Advances in reproductive medicine over the past few decades allow us to provide very high success rates, which makes their chances of having a baby and of fulfilling their dreams very real.
In my practice today, I see gay men from around the world who travel to Los Angeles to follow their dreams of becoming dads because we in California have created an environment perfect for surrogacy.
One of the biggest changes in gay family building has been the tremendous increase in resources available to prospective gay dads. Twenty-five years ago there were not many egg-donor or surrogacy agencies willing to help gay men become dads. In fact, years ago there were editorials written in our professional publications on whether reproductive medicine professionals should utilize the assets within our industry to help gay men have babies through egg donation and surrogacy.
Today most agencies and clinics will proudly offer family-building services to gay men.
It’s important that you ask your doctor, clinic and agency if they are comfortable helping you as a gay dad. The process is somewhat complex, but it’s very well established, and you want the full support of your professional team at each stage of the process.
The selection of your egg donor is one of the most important parts of the process, and you want to have an unlimited number of candidates to review to find your ideal match.
The availability of egg donors was not fully established 25 years ago. Today there are many sources of donor eggs, giving you a seemingly unlimited supply of candidates. You should search until you find the perfect candidate for you.
You can start by looking through a list of agencies, or hire a fertility consultant to help you find your ideal candidate. I don’t care if you select one of our donors, a donor that you found online, or a friend or family member, if she fulfills your criteria, and she meets our medical guidelines.
Once the donor has been screened and legal contracts have been completed, we can start the treatment process. The donor takes daily injections of hormones to stimulate all the eggs she’s recruited for the month, and the eggs are retrieved at the appropriate time. The embryos created are then cultured for five to six days then frozen for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to determine if they have the correct number of chromosomes.
Newer genetic testing options have recently become available that allow whole genomic sequencing of each embryo to provide a broader genetic assessment.
The next step is to find a surrogate to carry your pregnancy. When I first started my work in gay family building, it was more challenging to find a surrogate to help gay people with their family building. However, over time the surrogates expressed their willingness and devotion to gay men who wanted to have a baby.
Many surrogate candidates have expressed to me that they even prefer to work with gay men rather than heterosexual couples, since they enjoy the upbeat attitudes most prospective gay dads have towards their treatment process.
Since the COVID pandemic, surrogate carriers have gotten more difficult to find. A surrogate should provide the “optimal” environment for conception and pregnancy development. It used to take one to three months to be matched with a surrogate, and today it can take 12 to 18 months.
It’s easier today to find a surrogate for gay men than 25 years ago, no doubt. What’s most important is that expectations are realistic on each side, so that no one is disappointed during the pregnancy.
Twenty years ago, we would commonly transfer two embryos into a surrogate to increase the chance for pregnancy. As the science of PGT and embryo culture have improved, the pregnancy rates have increased and the incidence of twins has decreased.
This has also been a big change: We are now moving away from two-embryo implantation, and we are encouraging anyone looking for twins to use two simultaneous surrogates.
Getting pregnant and having a baby is a very personal process. If you are gay and want to become a parent, I encourage you to follow your dreams and to seek out the professional resources that you need to achieve your personal goal.
Do your research to help guide you through the process, and ask your doctor and their staff to introduce you to the best resources available to help you get started.
You can be a Dad, and you can have a family of your own. Follow your dreams and select a team that will help guide you through the process.”