Fertility options for same-sex couples 

KELLY EDEN talks with DR SARAH WAKEMAN about options for Kiwi same-sex couples wanting to start a family.

If you’re a same-sex couple starting to think about having a family, there are a few options available in New Zealand. Adoption is rare, so the best chance of having a child may be sperm or egg donation, but couples need to plan ahead.

“There is around a two-year waiting list for sperm donation from a clinic donor and even with a known donor the wait time is around six months,” says Dr Sarah Wakeman.

Whether a friend is donating or a clinic donor, the process for sperm donation in New Zealand is thorough. The donor has blood tests for infectious diseases, a medical appointment, and counselling before they are approved. The sperm also needs to be frozen and quarantined for testing. This takes between 4-6 months.

If you’re a woman waiting for sperm donation, there are things you can do to increase your fertility. When you stop smoking, reduce alcohol, ensure your weight is at a healthy level, eat well and exercise, you increase your chances of having a successful pregnancy. It’s also recommended that women take folic acid and iodine one month before insemination.

Even if you are over forty, where the chance of getting pregnant is lowered, there is a possibility of both sperm and egg donation. However, both sperm and egg donation are limited in New Zealand. “There’s always a shortage of egg donors,” says Dr Wakeman. Currently, there are not enough donors to meet the need, which makes planning even more necessary.

Before you look for a sperm donor, it’s essential to understand the law around sperm donation in New Zealand.

“According to the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act, donors have to be identifiable,” says Dr Wakeman. “The child can access the sperm donor’s information at some point if they choose to. It’s not anonymous.”

Sperm donors are not legal parents — they don’t have any responsibility financially or otherwise for the child — but the child can find out who they are.

You can choose to use a donation from someone you know or a clinic donor. With a clinic donor, you are provided with some basic non-identifiable information to help you make a selection, for example, age, appearance such as skin and hair colour, job, interests, personality, racial background, health information, and what they are good at. 

Dr Wakeman says all couples, as well as single women, are welcome to come and discuss fertility options with the team at Fertility Associates.

fertilityassociates.co.nz