LGBTQ+ Family Building FAQs

We are interested in getting pregnant using an egg donor and gestational carrier (surrogate) at the Reproductive Science Center. Where do we start?

  • Knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. RSC staff members are here to help guide you through this process with each and every step of the way.
  • Gestational carrier (GC)/surrogate: Do you already have a GC/surrogate? If you do not/are not already working with a surrogacy center/agency to find a GC, we recommend starting here because it can sometimes be the most time consuming. Depending on your course of treatment, it can be a fine balance between finding your GC and matching/coordinating with the egg donor. RSC works closely with some exceptional surrogacy centers/agencies and are happy to provide you with our referral list.
  • Egg donor: While you are in the process of securing your GC, it is also beneficial to start researching egg donor options. This will help optimize the timing once your GC is ready to go. RSC has the largest in-house, fully-screened, fresh egg donor program in the Bay Area. We suggest you start by viewing RSC’s in-house egg donor program registry – click here for more information or contact our donor program liaison at (925) 973-5018.
  • Scheduling a new patient appointment will help you create a plan for your treatment and provide direction for your next or final steps towards having a baby. Appointments may be done via phone or Skype if you live outside the Bay Area. To schedule an appointment, please contact our appointment line at (925) 867-1800.
Mother kissing little baby at home

Breaking Barriers, Building Families

Since 1983, we have pioneered fertility treatment for every kind of family. We want to help you achieve your dream of having a baby.

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What are the procedures involved with IVF?

Sperm freeze: a single ejaculation after 2-5 days of abstinence will be frozen and used on the day of egg retrieval.

Egg retrieval: multiple eggs will be retrieved from an egg donor after approximately 2 weeks of fertility shots. As an alternative, a batch of eggs can be used from the Donor Egg Bank, USA.

IVF/ICSI: the eggs will be fertilized “in vitro” (in the petri dish) by injecting a single sperm into each egg (ICSI: intracystoplasmic sperm injection).

Blastocyst culture: the embryos will be cultured in the incubator for 5-6 days to find the strongest embryos that most likely result in having a baby.

Embryo transfer: 1-2 embryos will be transferred to the gestational carrier’s uterus using a thin catheter. An abdominal ultrasound will be used to assist with proper placement. Learn more.

Embryo biopsy (optional): pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) can be done when requested. This involves biopsying the embryo to remove a few trophectoderm cells which allows us to run genetic tests on the embryo to evaluate any chromosomal or genetic problems.

How do we find a gestational carrier?

RSC can refer you to a surrogacy agency (local or out of town) who will help you choose a gestational carrier that’s right for you. We can also assist you in finding an attorney and psychologist to complete the match if you know someone who’s interested in carrying your pregnancy. RSC will review the GC medical records to ensure scheduling an appointment is the next step.

Once we find a gestational carrier, how do we proceed?

One of the RSC doctors or nurse practitioner’s/physician assistant’s will screen your gestational carrier on the day of your visit to ensure she is an ideal candidate. The gestational carrier can leave because the cycle can be coordinated using local clinics if necessary. The gestational carrier will need to come to RSC for the day of the embryo transfer and rest at home or a hotel the day after.

How many total visits does the gestational carrier need at RSC? How many visits do the intended parents need?

At a minimum, the gestational carrier needs two visits (one to our San Ramon center for the embryo transfer; the second can be at our Orinda San Ramon or San Jose center.)

The intended parents will need to make one visit only to the RSC San Ramon location to fill out a FDA questionnaire and have lab work, a physical exam, and sperm freeze. We strongly encourage the intended parents to also be present for the embryo transfer as it is one of the most memorable moments during the process.

We live outside the United States and are wondering how long we will need to be in San Ramon.

Ideally two to three days. This allows time for you to complete a physical exam, have blood and urine tests done, and provide one or two semen samples for freezing (as applicable). You can meet with your physician to discuss your treatment plan and your case manager to review consents. It also provides a good opportunity to meet with your attorney and surrogate.

And you can always include some San Francisco sightseeing or wine tasting in Napa Valley.

We would like to secure an egg donor. How do we do that?

RSC program egg donors can be secured after your new patient visit. Our in-house egg donor program is on a first come first serve basis. You will need to submit a signed “match agreement” document and pay the donor compensation in full in order to secure one of our program donors. Our current donor compensation is as follows:

  • $9,500 for donors
  • $4,000 for a shared donor cycle
  • The first recipient to submit their signed agreement and full donor compensation secures the first position for that donor.

We have a dedicated donor liaison to personally assist you in finding an egg donor whether it’s from our in-house program or an outside agency Please note that outside agencies’ fees and processes vary and we do not have authority to change their programs.

What will all of this cost?

RSC’s cycle costs are highly competitive but translate into great value when combined with our outstanding success rates. Unfortunately, no two treatment cycles are the same and the differences and options available to you can create large cost differences. We caution our patients not to only look at just total cost.

It is difficult to provide a quote without meeting you and putting together a comprehensive treatment plan first. Immediately after meeting with an infertility specialist and developing a treatment plan, one of our expert financial counselors, who will work with you the entire way, will provide a detailed fee analysis and answer any questions about treatment fees. We will also discuss payment options including financing and unique risk-sharing programs.

If I am planning on carrying the baby, do I have to do expensive fertility tests and take fertility meds?

At RSC, we believe in using the most natural and cost-effective treatments to achieve a healthy pregnancy. At the time of the initial visit with a doctor, your medical history will be reviewed and a simple ultrasound will be performed. After that, you and your doctor can decide the best plan, which may include some simple fertility tests or medication to expedite pregnancy. However, most patients under 35 years old and many 35-37 year olds will not need extensive testing or medications. A “NATURAL CYCLE with INSEMINATION” will be recommended.

What if I/we have our own known sperm donor?

Someone you know you want to be the sperm donor is called a known sperm donor.

The first step is to have your potential sperm donor complete a semen analysis before coming to RSC to ensure he is a good candidate for sperm donation.

Your potential donor would then undergo screening and testing, as required by the FDA. This can be accomplished in a single visit to RSC.  Your sperm donor may also provide a semen sample to be frozen and stored for your treatment cycle. Depending on your treatment plan, more than one sample may be needed (which may require additional visits to the clinic).

I/we will need to use donor sperm. How do we go about selecting/purchasing sperm?

Purchasing donor semen is easy. RSC is happy to provide a list of approved sperm banks. These sperm banks maintain the appropriate licenses required by the FDA, CLIA and individual state regulations and they have provided the quality samples and excellent customer service we require for our patients. Make sure to browse different sperm banks until you find one that meets your specific needs.

Once you have settled on a sperm bank you may be asked to open an account to access the full donor catalog. You will need to discuss the type and number of vials with your physician before ordering. Most sperm banks offer two types of frozen specimen preparations: “ICI” or intracervical insemination specimens (unwashed) and “IUI” or intrauterine insemination specimens (the sample has been pre-washed prior to freezing).

RSC accepts both types of sample preparations for your treatment. Ordering online or by phone is easy, and for your convenience, the sperm bank will ship the frozen specimens to our clinic directly. If you are using a local sperm bank, you may pick up and deliver the sample to RSC yourself.

We are concerned about using frozen sperm rather than fresh.

Sperm banks carefully screen their donors and sperm from men with normal semen parameters such as sperm count, motility and morphology that can enable fertilizing egg equally, whether fresh or frozen sperm is used. Sperm banks are required to freeze and quarantine all donor sperm for six months prior to use by a patient. RSC recommends intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for all patients using frozen sperm undergoing IVF. All patients using a gestational carrier are required to use frozen sperm for their cycle.

Patients using their own sperm or a known sperm donor must have a semen evaluation prior to initiating the treatment cycle. If the semen parameters are abnormal, freezing is more likely to diminish sperm performance and ICSI will be required.

My partner wants to provide eggs and I want to become pregnant. How will that work?

We describe this particular treatment plan as shared maternity.

You and your partner will meet with a physician to discuss the treatment plan and medical evaluation for both of you, not only to assess your general health but to also evaluate your ability to either provide eggs or carry a pregnancy. The partner providing the eggs will have blood work and an ultrasound to evaluate the patient’s ovaries. This will provide information on medication dosage for a treatment cycle. The partner who will carry the pregnancy will have testing to evaluate the patient’s uterus including an ultrasound with saline injected into the uterus or an x-ray procedure. In addition, blood work will be done to screen for infectious and communicable diseases.

I have other questions. Who should I contact at your practice?

Please contact our new patient coordinators by calling (925) 867-1800. They will be able to answer your questions and schedule your first appointment.

What to ask when looking for a fertility center:

  1. What are the clinic’s success rates using an egg donor and gestational carrier?
  2. What is the experience of the center/doctors in relation to treating the LGBT community?
  3. Does the center have an “in-house” egg donor program and/or do they work closely with outside egg donor and gestational carrier agencies?
  4. What are the costs involved in this type of cycle?
  5. Can both myself and my partner provide sperm?
  6. Can my donor be monitored closer to home to decrease travel costs?
  7. Do you offer preimplantation genetic screening?
  8. Do you have a concierge service to help with travel arrangements?
  9. Do you have multi-cycle discount plans?
  10. Do you provide financing?
  11. How soon can I schedule a new patient appointment? Can it be via phone or Skype?
  12. Once I have secured an egg donor and gestational carrier, how long will it take to begin the IVF cycle?
  13. Do you offer shared donor cycles? If so, what are the benefits of shared cycles?
  14. Do you participate with a frozen egg bank? If so, what are the benefits?

The Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area is a leading pioneer in infertility treatments including IVF with egg donation and LGBTQ family building. We’ll work with you to help you achieve your dreams of having a baby.


LGBTQ+ Couple with baby