Dr. Juan P. Alvarez is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and completed his fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of California, Los Angeles and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Alvarez completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine and received his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. A native of Colombia and fluent in Spanish, Dr. Alvarez feels a special connection to Latino/Hispanic patients. As a member of the LGBTQ community, he is especially committed to helping, treating, and advocating for the reproductive health of the LGBTQ community with a specific interest in egg donation, sperm donation, and surrogacy. Dr. Alvarez’s published research has centered around topics such as PCOS, miscarriage, the impact obesity has on egg quality, ovarian function, and fertility potential.

November 27,  2018

What are the first steps for a gay couple to start building a family using assisted reproductive technology?

For gay men, the journey to parenthood is quite unique in order to have biological children. There are considerable steps along the journey, which can include several different providers that contribute to the success of building a family. The journey usually starts with identifying a fertility clinic, especially one that is familiar with LGBT couples. This is an extremely important quality due to the complexities of the process and all of the moving parts involved. LGBT family planning information and programs can usually be found on the clinic’s website or one can inquire when making the first appointment.

First, the couple will meet with a fertility specialist to review medical and family history, as well as to discuss the process of using assisted reproductive technology (ART). The couple will need a sperm analysis to make sure there isn’t an underlying infertility diagnosis. The couple will also discuss the process of finding an egg donor to provide eggs to fertilize and create embryos in the lab by process of in vitro fertilization (IVF). The couple will also discuss the process of finding a gestational carrier (GC) who will carry the pregnancy. The physician will refer the couple to a surrogacy agency that works closely with fertility clinics. The majority of fertility clinics do not provide services to find a GC, but some clinics have their own egg donor programs.

During this initial consultation, the couple can ask questions to their fertility doctor and receives an outline of  the IVF process. The whole journey from the initial visit to creating embryos and transferring to a gestational carrier can take anywhere between 6 months and a year. After the first consultation, I recommend that the couple make an appointment with the surrogacy agency right away. The most time-consuming step of this process is finding and matching with a GC that the couple feels comfortable with.

While the couple is identifying their egg donor and GC, they will also be directed to start the process of a psychosocial education with a qualified mental health specialist as well as a legal representation with an appropriately qualified legal practitioner who is experienced with third-party reproduction and licensed to practice in the relevant state or states of the egg donor and or GC. This process is highly complex as it requires the coordination of several different professionals as well as several different institutions. That is why the most important first step is identifying a qualified fertility clinic and fertility doctor that understands and has a history of serving gay couples.

Fertility Centers of Illinois is one of the nation’s leading fertility practices and has provided same-sex couples with the resources and guidance needed to start their families for more than 25 years. Complete the form below to schedule an appointment with Dr. Alvarez and discover your family planning options.

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