Florida Institute for Reproductive Sciences and Technologies, FIRST, is proud to be a center of excellence and a pioneer in the field of infertility treatment for same sex couples and single parent Gay or Lesbian or Transgender families. Offering a complete range of diagnostic and therapeutic services, FIRST knows that seeking to become a parent can be a stressful undertaking for those faced with inability to conceive without surrogacy or a sperm donor. Treatment is provided in a relaxed and supportive non-judgmental atmosphere.
Dr. Selub has been serving the LGBT community since 1991, long before it was "politically correct." A graduate of Smith College, a prestigious single sex undergraduate institution for women, Dr. Selub was already well schooled in gender issues even before entering medical school. She became particularly sensitive to the reproductive barriers faced by Gay men, since her stepbrother, beloved by the entire family, died of AIDS in 1995. He and his partner created an awareness for her about the devoted, steady relationships that exist among gay couples that can best be appreciated by close family.
When other South Florida physicians (still practicing at IVF centers throughout Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties) were turning away Gay and Lesbian patients, refusing to treat single women requesting insemination with donor sperm, insisting on prerequisite psychiatric screening, and refusing to render services for unmarried patients, Dr. Selub never hesitated to make sure her LGBT patients received the benefits of superior contemporary technology in a personalized and compassionate setting.
At FIRST, procedures such as reciprocal IVF for Lesbian couples and traditional surrogate insemination for Gay men are routine! Regardless of how you see yourself as a family, single Lesbian mom, single Gay father, as parents that are a partnered same sex couple or any of the other myriad of possibilities, Minna Ruth Selub, M.D. and the staff of the Florida Institute for Reproductive Sciences and Technologies can help you achieve your dream.
Working with a Gestational Carrier (Surrogate)
Of course, Gay males must work with a surrogate to become parents. The selected carrier should be in excellent health to the greatest extent possible and, if she has been pregnant before, have a good obstetric history.
Working with a gestational carrier usually involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) of eggs that are harvested from another woman, either a commissioning parent or an egg donor selected by the commissioning parent(s). This more common approach is favored for important legal reasons. The harvested eggs are then fertilized in-vitro, in FIRST's laboratory, outside the carrier's body, to form embryos that will later be transferred to her uterus. FIRST will, however, work with "traditional" gestational carriers, women willing to become pregnant using their own eggs through artificial insemination. This tends to be a simpler, more natural, and more affordable approach that can be appropriate in some situations.
Lesbian couples may wish to become parents through Reciprocal IVF, where one female partner donates her eggs to be fertilized with donor sperm, while the other female partner serves as the gestational carrier. Before considering a Reciprocal IVF procedure, both female partners must be thoroughly screened to ensure that they are, indeed, candidates for their respective roles. Once cleared, the donating partner undergoes an egg retrieval procedure and her eggs are then fertilized in-vitro with donor sperm. The other female partner prepares her uterus with medication and undergoes an embryo transfer to serve as a gestational carrier. Through Reciprocal IVF, both female partners are able to play a vital role in, and have a biological connection to, the conception and birth of their child!
We have extensive experience working with patients who commission a gestational carrier and know how to streamline the process for all parties involved. If you believe you are a good candidate to carry a pregnancy for someone else and wish to be considered as a surrogate, please do not hesitate to call us to get more information about whether or not you may qualify! If you do qualify as a candidate, after passing the requisite screening tests, we can quickly match you so that you can get on the road to helping make another person's dream come true.
For decades, commissioning patients, gestational carriers, and attorneys, too, have turned to FIRST for our hassle free, successful approach to making third party reproduction through gestational surrogacy a safe and joyful experience. If you are searching for a gestational carrier, please call us to find out about availability of our "in-house" gestational surrogates. We also routinely collaborate closely with several capable agencies and experienced attorneys specializing in recruiting immediately available gestational carriers.
Many of our patients have already identified a candidate to be their gestational carrier before consulting with us, often tapping a close friend or relative. We are happy to work with you to begin the screening process. Once all participating parties are medically cleared, you will be referred for legal counsel, as necessary, while we help you tackle the logistic issues and prepare for the necessary IVF or insemination procedures.
A separate initial interview with Dr. Selub is necessary for each individual potentially playing a biolgical role in the planned pregnancy in cases of third party reproduction in which a gestational carrier is commissioned. A legal contract between the commissioning parent(s) will be required by FIRST in most situations. Keep in mind that you will need legal counsel to be able to adopt a child after delivery from a gestational carrier, or “birth mother.” Often, outside agencies recruiting and providing gestational carriers have in-house legal services to help you create a contract with your surrogate and draw up a pre-birth adoption agreement. No legal fees or fees to support and compensate a gestational carrier for her services before, during and after her pregnancy are included in any fees paid to FIRST.
Therapeutic Donor Sperm Insemination
When there is no male partner available, anonymous donor sperm may be used. Some patients may choose to use sperm from a known sperm donor. Both options can be effective and are extremely safe. For patients with a very severe male factor, or if the male partner has had a vasectomy, using donor sperm is an economical alternative to IVF with ICSI. Some patients decide to use donor sperm when multiple ICSI cycles have failed.
Donor semen is available from a number of very reliable and trustworthy sperm banks. Sperm donors are tested for transmissible diseases, such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, and Cytomegalovirus, as well as their blood type. Cryopreserved sperm purchased from a sperm bank is quarantined for six months, and the donor is retested for infections. Only then, if the tests remain negative, is the donated sperm, already frozen for six months, made available for insemination.
A woman can carry a baby of any blood type, but if the carrying female is Rh negative, she may elect to choose a donor who is also Rh negative to avoid the need for RhoGAM injections during pregnancy. She may also wish to match her sperm donor's blood type to that of her male partner.
If a potential carrier of a pregnacy is CMV negative (her test shows that she has not been exposed to Cytomegalovirus), she should select a sperm donor who is also CMV negative for insemination. Sperm from a CMV positive donor can be used only by women who are also CMV positive or who are using in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to achieve a pregnancy.
Information about the sperm donor's physical characteristics such as hair color, skin tone, and eye color as well as blood type of the sperm donor is available in each sperm bank's catalogue which can usually be viewed online. A donor's ethnicity and level of education is often indicated and many sperm banks offer pictures and even more data on their sperm donors for a fee.
For more information about sperm banks, please click on the links below:
- p California Cryobankp
- Fairfax Cryobank, Virginia
- Xytex Corporation, Georgia
- ZyGen Laboratory, California
- New England Cryogenic Center, Massachusetts
- The Sperm Bank of California
- Scandinavian Cryobank
- N.W. Andrology and Cryobank, Inc., Washington
You can easily arrange to have your specimen(s) delivered to FIRST directly from your chosen sperm bank or transferred from another doctor's office. Just call us to ask how! We have the facilities to keep your specimen frozen and safe for as much time as necessary before you are ready to use your sperm. Fees will apply for cryopreserved specimens remaining at FIRST for more than one year.
Designating a Known, Non-Intimate Sperm Donor
Nowadays, many patients request to use a non-intimate friend, acquaintance, or relative as a designated sperm donor. FIRST recommends following the Society for Reproductive Sciences and Technology (SART.org) donor tissue banking guidelines (followed by all proprietary, licensed sperm banks in the U.S.) regarding infectious disease screening and quarantining of donor sperm from a non-intimate male that you may decide to use as a sperm donor. In such cases, you and your sperm donor are advised to seek legal counsel prior to the insemination procedure.
Once you are counseled regarding the risks (and benefits) of using a known, designated sperm donor with whom you have not been sexually intimate, you may decide to use his sperm to try to achieve a pregnancy without quarantining his frozen sperm sample for at least six months, as recommended by SART guidelines. Patients electing to take this alternative to purchasing sperm from a sperm bank are permitted to forgo the six month waiting period, or even use a fresh semen sample for donor insemination, if willing to assume the small but finite risk of being exposed to a potentially serious health problem.
Individuals considering medical therapy for sex reassignment are welcome to consult with Dr. Selub to benefit from her expertise in reproductive endocrinology, the complicated field of medicine dealing with the many hormones involved in the growth, development, regulation, maintenance and function of the reproductive organs.
Remember that it is critical to collect, cryopreserve (freeze), and bank sperm or eggs (gametes) BEFORE starting treatment for gender reassignment, in order to have healthy gametes to use if and when you may choose to start a family in the future.
Of course, surgical removal of the ovaries or testes will render an individual sterile, but patients undergoing gender reassignment must also be made aware that the exogenous hormone treatments that will be prescribed to achieve their desired sex will have damaging effects on the quality, quantity and function of their gametes while testes or ovaries are still in situ.
If you have already begun the process of sex reassignment without banking eggs or sperm, it may not be too late for you to bank your gametes; the negative effects of hormonal treatment for gender dysphoria on sperm and eggs are usually reversible when therapy is temporarily stopped for a period of time.
Egg banking involves the cryopreservation (freezing) of female eggs for future use. Ideally, eggs should be banked at the youngest age possible after puberty. Banking eggs after the age of 35, or if you have already been diagnosed with low ovarian reserve, is not recommended and unlikely to be of any benefit, as the eggs will have a low probability of successfully helping you to achieve a live birth in the future.
To bank eggs, the eggs must first be collected from the ovaries via an egg retrieval procedure through the same method used for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). You can learn more about that procedure by clicking on the "IVF" button on this website.
After the eggs are harvested, they must be dehydrated before they are frozen. Eggs can be stored for years, or even decades, and successfullly thawed, inseminated through intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) with IVF, and then transferred to the uterus to achieve pregnancy. FIRST provides this service for women and will store your eggs for one year free of charge.
Sperm freezing and storage is available at FIRST. The fee to freeze a specimen is $200.00. Often, one ejaculate may be divided and used for more than one attempt to achieve a pregnancy. We will store your specimen for one year free of charge. There is very little decrease, if any, in sperm quantity or quality associated with aging. If you are eager to get started with medical therapy to treat your gender dysphoria, and are considering storing sperm for future use, call us so we can get to work as quickly as possible to give you an opportunity to extend your fertility.