By Dr Andy Stamatiou, specialist at Rainbow Fertility
Whether you are a single gay man, or a partner is a same sex couple, and have made the important decision to start a family but are not sure where to begin, we have answers for you.
Dr Andy Stamatiou from Rainbow Fertility shares the important steps you require to secure a smooth commencement to your fertility/family-building journey.
There are three key elements you need to build a family: sperm, an egg and a surrogate to carry the pregnancy. With a good health report, you should be able to supply the sperm. Then an egg donor is to be sourced and a surrogate to carry the pregnancy.
While clinics cannot help you find a surrogate, we can provide advice and information. Usually potential male parents often find an egg donor and surrogate through family, friends, colleagues or support groups.
It is preferred that a referral be made from your general practitioner to a fertility specialist. Next step is to make an appointment with a fertility specialist in Rainbow Fertility to discuss all possibilities and the process necessary to achieve your dream.
During your first appointment, your specialist will gather relevant information about you, your circumstances, and medical history etc. You will also get an insight into surrogacy requirements and current procedures.
Every surrogacy case that Rainbow Fertility are involved in, needs to undergo an initial review by an internal surrogacy committee comprising of fertility specialists, nurse, scientist, national managers, counsellor and lawyer. This initial review looks at the medical histories of all parties in surrogacy and their motivation for surrogacy. Each state in Australia has different regulations which must be adhered to. The recommendation from this review will then be forwarded to your specialist who will inform you of the outcome.
It is then mandatory for all parties to attend a counselling session. Counselling is important for several reasons including allowing for the open discussion of surrogacy and fertility treatments on a personal level, enabling any issues to be raised, and allowing for the emotional responsibilities of becoming a parent to be discussed.
All surrogacy cases in Australia must seek independent legal advice by both the commissioning parent(s) and the surrogate (and any partner). The commissioning parent(s) and the surrogate (and any partner) must have separate appointments with different surrogacy legal advisors.
Before actual treatment commences, a final surrogacy review will then take place by the Rainbow Fertility surrogacy committee who will review the medical screening tests, consent forms, legal arrangements, completion and outcome of counselling sessions to ensure everything is ready. The final recommendation will be forwarded to your specialist who will inform you of the outcome. In Victoria, cases must also be approved by the government’s patient review panel.
All parties will participate in an individual information session with a fertility co-ordinator. At this session you will discuss the individual treatment plans as devised by your specialist, and the requirements of the treatment cycle for the egg donor and/or surrogate.
Once treatment is approved, the egg donor is prepared for an IVF cycle, after which eggs are retrieved for fertilisation. The donor eggs are then fertilised with the sperm stored in the laboratory.
A quarantine period for the embryos is observed for six months to ensure maximum safety for all parties. Final screening tests are next undertaken with the donors and commissioning parent(s).
Finally, once the six-month embryo quarantine period is over and the final screening tests are cleared, the surrogate can begin the Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) treatment with the hope for a successful pregnancy outcome.
While this is the normal process, sometimes there will be variations depending on your personal circumstances.
Surrogacy may appear to be a complicated process, and it is, but for a good reason: the protection of all parties involved and a happy outcome for everyone.
That is why the extensive experience and expertise of clinics as Rainbow Fertility are essential.
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