The language of LGBTQ+ family planning can be a little dense and daunting. In this guide, we’ll break down some of the common terms you’ll hear tossed around.

 

By Lisa Rosenthal

The language of LGBTQ+ family planning can be a little dense and daunting. There are a lot of medical terms and acronyms, and if you don’t know all the jargon, it’s possible that you don’t know all your options and steps for creating kiddos.

You’ve probably heard some of the terms on this list–many of these have become common knowledge. But sometimes the actual field definitions are a little more specific and reveal important details. Which is why we’re happy to provide this mini dictionary of standard LGBTQ+ family building terms. Read through to get to know and clarify this kind of confusing language. And then, fav. or bookmark this page, so you’ll always be ready for a quick brush up. Maybe for a sneaky preview on your phone in the waiting room before a doctor’s appointment or consultation.

What is a Reproductive Endocrinologist?

Endocrinology is the field of studying and treating hormone-related issues in the body. So a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI) is a doctor who studies and treats hormones related to the human reproductive system. They specialize in: In vitro fertilization (IVF), tubal factor infertility, male factor infertility, fertility preservation, endometriosis, and other disorders of the female reproductive tract, including PCOS, pituitary dysfunction ,and uterine abnormalities.

Reproductive Endocrinologists go through a lot of training – they’re dedicated and passionate about what they do. After working through a typical medical residency program, future REIs then apply for highly competitive three-year programs for additional training. Once they’re in, they focus exclusively on studying hormones and the reproductive system. Therefore, REIs have approximately 15 years (or more) of medical training. And then to become an REI officially, these doctors pass rigorous testing and receive board certification by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in two fields: Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

What is an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?

IUI is a technique that delivers sperm directly into a uterus. You might know this by a more general term, IUI allows better sperm delivery to the fallopian tube–it helps the sperm and egg interact in closer proximity. It’s a standard treatment for mild and moderate deficits in the semen analysis, which can indicate low volume, motility, or morphology of sperm. IUI treatments are typically used in conjunction with medications that increase the number of eggs per cycle and trigger ovulation. IUI is a triple threat approach: Better sperm delivery, perfect targets for the sperm, and ideal timing.

What is IVF?

IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. IVF refers to a series of procedures with the aim of achieving pregnancy. A person’s ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple eggs. The eggs are then retrieved and combined with sperm in a laboratory to create embryos. Subsequently, embryos can be transferred to a uterus to start a pregnancy.

What is PGT-A?

Preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy is when embryos are tested to figure out which ones have normal chromosomes – meaning they have the best chance of a healthy and full-term pregnancy. Missing or additional numbers of chromosomes in embryos is one prevalent cause of miscarriage and implantation failure.

As you know, science advances quickly, and terminology changes all the time! This test is now referred to as "PGT-A", but was previously called "PGS" - or preimplantation genetic screening. So you may still see other Googlers asking the question "what is PGS?"

What is a Sperm Donor?

A sperm donor is a person who donates sperm to a pregnancy for another person(s). Sometimes they’re known and sometimes they’re anonymous. 

What is an Egg Donor?

An egg donor is a person who donates eggs to a pregnancy for another person(s). Like a sperm donor, sometimes this is a known person, and sometimes they’re an anonymous donor.

What is an Intended Parent(s)?

The person or people who will be legally responsible for caring for and raising the child. This status is regardless of who has given birth to the child or if the intended parent(s) are genetically linked to the child. Maybe you’re reading this because you’re an Intended Parent! Or you’re intending to be! 

What is a Surrogate?

A surrogate is a person who carries a pregnancy to term for another family. You’ve probably heard the term “surrogate” and “surrogacy” a lot–these terms are now common knowledge, used to describe someone carrying a child for another person. But the medical terminology has evolved beyond that basic definition, and so now the word “surrogate” is often interchanged with “Gestational Carrier.” Read more below.

What is a Gestational Carrier?

A gestational carrier (GC) is also a person who carries a pregnancy to term for another family . This is a newer term, but essentially synonymous with “surrogate”. In the past, some families were formed using traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate contributed both eggs and uterus to the process. However, this process is legally complex, as the surrogate is genetically linked to the child in those instances, and is much less commonly practiced today as a result. Now you know a fancy, newer term that you can use to impress your family building team. 

What is Reciprocal IVF?

With reciprocal in vitro fertilization, one person donates eggs to their partner, and their partner carries the pregnancy. For some LGBTQ couples, this is a way that two cisgender women can physically participate in the carrying of a pregnancy. One partner donates eggs (goes through superovulation with fertility medicines to produce multiple eggs and undergoes egg retrieval -you know what these terms mean now!). After egg retrieval, those eggs are combined with designated donor sperm in the IVF laboratory. The carrying partner then goes on medication to prepare her uterus, and then embryos are transferred.

 

This article was first published on Gay Parents To Bean informational resource and a starting point for LGBTQ parenting.  Gay Parents To Be strive to provide the best care for LGBTQ couples and individuals as they navigate all of their family building options.