Transgender dad used IVF to conceive his son: ‘We were really lucky’ – Yahoo Lifestyle

Atransgenderfather who used his own egg to conceive his 4-year-old son is opening up about his long path to parenthood.

Seth and Leah Marlow, of Roanoke, Va., welcomed little Arlo four years ago using reciprocalin vitro fertilization with Seths egg combined with donor sperm to make an embryo that was then carried to term by Leah.

Although Seth transitioned in 2003, underwent a double mastectomy in 2005, and takes weekly testosterone shots, he kept his ovaries, in part, to one day start a family.

However, in order to donate an egg, Seth had to re-start menstruation (which had ceased), stop taking testosterone, and use medication to stimulate the ovaries for a period of time that was awful and uncomfortable. I didnt feel like myself like I was walking in the wrong pair of shoes, the 41-year-old technology trainertells Yahoo Lifestyle. Still, you have to put on those shoes and walk out into the world.

After IVF, the couple decided to freeze their embryo for three years to allow Seth adequate time to re-start his testosterone and recover from an exhausting battle with their insurance company, which ultimately denied coverage (with the exception of Leahs pre-natal care).

Seth had requestedfertility preservation coverage, which, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),allows patients to save their eggs and sperm before undergoing treatment for medical conditions such as cancer. Seth argued that testosterone injections for hisgender dysphoria diagnosiscould ultimately impair his fertility, however, his insurance company denied coverage and appeals to the State Department of Health in Massachusetts (the state where Seths company was based) failed, as well.

Gender dysphoria, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender.

The term was recently eliminated from the mental health category by theInternational Classification of Diseases (ICD)says Dana Bevin, Ph.D., a research psychologist in Georgia. Long before that, theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)replaced the term gender identity disorder with gender dysphoria to help eradicate mental health stigmas.

The idea was to give gender dysphoria a medical diagnosis and de-pathologize the term, Bevin tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that fertility preservation should be a covered service, according to thethe World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), a global organization that sets standards of care for medical and mental-health treatments.

The Marlows always remained focused on their dream, with Seth recently telling Andrea Syrtash, the founder of the online magazinePregnantishandthe podcast of the same name, I kept going because I had a very clear guidance for myself, which we adopted mutually. For me, I knew that I could only do it one time and that was hear people going through this all the time and theyll say its all worth it when you have a healthy baby. I knew that we might not get any baby and that I needed for it to be worth it to me regardless of what happened.

Seth added, And so I viewed it as an opportunity to maybe have a child with my wife and that opportunity had to be enough. We were really lucky. We have a beautiful child, but I couldnt set the goal.

The couple cashed out their retirement funds and went into debt to pay for the procedures, which totaled an estimated $30K, counting fertilization, freezing, two transfers, medication, storage fees, travel time and lost work wages.

Im so grateful to my wife, who has never made me feel that I had some sort of shortcoming, Seth tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She approached this like any other life challenge.

And Arlo, who was born in 2015, understands his birth story. He knows not every family is formed this way that whats true about one person or most people isnt true for everyone, Seth explains. I recently asked Arlo how he felt about a sibling and he asked, Will we use the same donor and egg?

Seth adds, We give him space to feel however he feels about it.

Related Video: Follow This Same-Sex Couples Incredible IVF Journey

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Transgender dad used IVF to conceive his son: 'We were really lucky' - Yahoo Lifestyle

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