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A Guide for Queers Considering Conception in Chicago

Updated: Apr 4

Embarking on the journey to parenthood is a deeply personal and transformative experience, marked by excitement, anticipation, and sometimes, uncertainty. Whether you are just starting to think about it or already in the thick of it, one thing is for sure: queer families are intentional. If you have a uterus and are looking for sperm, this is a good place to start. Stay tuned for steps of trying to conceive (TTC) for queers, insights, and tips.

period tracking calendar for trying to conceive

Cycle Tracking

If you are planning to carry the pregnancy, how much do you know about your menstrual cycle? Some queer folks have a complicated relationship with bleeding and might be on birth control to manage pain or dysphoria. If you are on hormonal birth control, you are not ovulating (releasing a fertile egg).

  1. Get off birth control if you are on it.

  2. Start tracking your cycle. You'll want three months or more of tracking both when you bleed and when you notice cervical mucous.

  3. You probably also want to track your basal body temperature so that you can confirm ovulation. If all this is new to you, time to look at some books that help!

The OG, Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler is full of information and also gendered advice. You can decide if that is right for you or if you want something more queer affirming like Queer Conception by Liam Kali.

Increasing Fertility

As you start to get to know your cycle better, you'll also want to start doing some basic things that can increase your fertility. Maybe getting pregnant will go super smoothly for you, but because trying as a queer family takes resources (time & money) you want to do everything in your power to help the process along.

  • Abstain from smoking, alcohol, and drugs, really anything that taxes your liver

  • Get on a regular sleep schedule as much as possible; if you invest in black out curtains, they will be helpful once you have a baby!

  • Check in on your diet to ensure you are getting enough calories. People commonly drink coffee in the morning, which is an appetite suppressor, and then don't eat for hours. This messes with your blood sugar and your circadian rhythm. If you are going to focus on having one healthy, high in protein meal a day, pick breakfast!

queer conception book the complete fertility guide for queer and trans parents to be

SPERM, Or Things You Thought You'd Never Miss

The options can be overwhelming. Known donor or spermbank? IUI or straight to IVF? Insurance coverage and budget? The cheapest way is at home insemination with a known donor or with purchased sperm from a cryobank. That said, you will need to spend some time getting to know your body and tracking ovulation. And of course, the more medical (aka $$$), the more likely to be successful in fewer tries. I highly recommend Queer Conception as a great resource as you get started on the journey. I also have a guide for choosing a sperm donor.

Fertility Clinics

If you do choose ART, finding the right fertility clinic is a key decision. Factors such as experience in working with LGBTQ+ individuals and couples, availability of LGBTQ+-friendly resources and support groups, and success rates with queer patients should all be considered. The internet is your friend. Check places like Facebook and Reddit for personal experiences. No clinic is perfect, but you should feel comfortable and safe in whichever space you choose. Three fertility clinics in the Chicago area to get you started:

Reminder that all fertility clinics in the country as for-profit organizations. You will likely need to do some serious vetting as you figure out which is right for you. A good place to start is with the CDC list of all clinics nationwide because you can check success rates without having to filter through the marketing on a clinic's website.


Navigating legal and parental rights sucks, and it is essential. You won't be able to seek parentage or second-parent adoption until your baby is born, so this is one to just keep on your radar and budget for. I've got a whole article on second-parent (gross term, blarg) adoption in Illinois here.

Build a Support Network

The conception journey can evoke so many feelings, making a robust support network invaluable. If you aren't telling family that you are TTC, find some trusted chosen family or friends who can support you. Reddit has an active forum, r/queerception where you can post your questions. Caveat: that group includes people who are brand new and people who have been trying for a long time. Sometimes the different outlooks and perspectives can feel a little chaotic.

Your support network might also include a queer doula - we can help you find others going through the same thing! Stay tuned this summer for a TTC support group here in Chicago.

Prioritize Mental Health

If you don't have a therapist yet, you need one. And maybe also a couples therapist, too. I really love The Expansive Group in Chicago. The path to conception is not always straightforward. Nurturing your emotional and mental well-being is paramount while TTC. Engage in self-care practices such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and journaling to alleviate stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation.

You might also want to plan ahead for breaks from the process of trying to conceive. Maybe you will take a month off this summer to travel. Or maybe you want to take all the months off and need some help staying accountable and prioritizing this process. Either way, take a step back and look at the big picture before you get into the weeds of planning.

Trying to conceive as a queer person probably feels overwhelming, I get it. I'm here to remind you that queer families make the world a better place. Thank you for choosing to grow your family. I am rooting for you.

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