la jolla ivf is dedicated to lgbt family-building in a marriage of science and soul

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Building families

What makes La Jolla IVF different from the thousands of IVF clinics around the world? Success rates (for sure); the fact that we have done more surrogacy cases than most; more gay surrogacy (definitively); egg donor cases too, and more than our fair share of intransigent, difficult cases, that other centres might not even have treated.

Thousands of babies have been born with the helping hands of Dr David B. Smotrich and La Jolla IVF since the clinic was founded. The children span the globe, living in 86 countries around the world, on every continent, from the beaches of Ipanema, Brazil, to the South China Sea, from remotest Africa, to sunny Australia and pristine New Zealand, from the cool shores of the British Isles, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Dublin, Madrid, to the Middle East, Far East, the Pacific Rim, South America, North America, all 50 states in the USA, Canada and Central America.

La Jolla IVF has become one of the leading fertility clinics for LGBT family building around the world. The La Jolla IVF team and Dr Smotrich understand the unique challenges facing gay and lesbian parenting options. Over the past ten years, La Jolla IVF has performed more than 550 gay surrogacy cycles with a success rate of over 80% on the first attempt.

La Jolla IVF offers a wide array of treatments for LGBT patients. For example, Dr Smotrich tailors specific protocols for single and gay male patients including options for two-father families where both men are involved in the treatment cycle and an embryo from each partner is transferred into the surrogate, creating an outcome of twins — one baby from each father. Alternatively, many couples opt to return to La Jolla IVF after their first baby is born to undergo a sibling cycle so that both partners have one child in each cycle.

The La Jolla IVF team and Dr Smotrich provide personal attention in a boutique setting, but, mostly patients tell us, it is our humanity, compassion and our ability to empathise — that special something that leaves patients feeling that no stone has been left unturned in the quest for success, that the basic tenet of humanity has not been lost in the fray of their treatments and procedures. The human touch, the caring and the true mission and principles upon which the clinic was founded are still being preserved every day and in every way.

La Jolla IVF is not simply an infertility business, but a home away from home for those seeking to fulfill a human need. Long after the treatment is over, whether successful or not (and in gay cases in more than 80% of the time it is!), patients can still feel kinship with the personnel and the doctor and know that their lives were touched and that the experience itself, no matter how stressful, was one where they did not walk alone, but felt supported and aware at a fundamental level that all who were involved in their care tried their best. This is what sets La Jolla IVF apart.

The team at La Jolla IVF led by Dr Smotrich are honoured to have contributed in some way to the thousands of babies that live around the world and who bring joy to their parents. We harbour the hope that one day when these children have families of their own, we will still be here for them to visit us with the next generation. For truly, the greatest gift of all is that of Life and so the cycle continues.

La Jolla IVF is more than just a baby-making machine. We hope and trust it is the epitome of a marriage between Science and Soul.


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“La Jolla IVF is not simply an infertility business, but a home away from home for those seeking to fulfill a human need”



When was La Jolla IVF founded?

In 1997, one of the first cases that Dr Smotrich took care of as a private reproductive physician involved a gay male couple. About 15 years ago, a gay male couple desiring to start a family approached Dr Smotrich to perform an egg donation/ gestational surrogacy case for them. At this time, Dr Smotrich still used an IVF laboratory that was attached to a hospital and therefore he had to ask the hospital permission to execute the case. The hospital itself agreed in principal but several staff members had issues. As a result, Dr Smotrich had to move the case to another IVF laboratory. It was this case that gave Dr Smotrich the impetus to build his own centre with its own operating room and attached IVF laboratory. From these humble beginnings, La Jolla IVF was “born”. The notion that all who desire a family should be able to avail themselves of treatment is one of the underpinnings of La Jolla IVF’s mission.


What services does La Jolla IVF offer lesbian couples wanting a child?

La Jolla IVF and Dr Smotrich offer a full array of reproductive services to lesbian couples – from low tech to high tech. Lesbian couples (singles) can use a sperm donor (either fresh or frozen sperm from a known sperm donor or frozen sperm samples from a sperm bank). Depending on the particularities of the case, the couple can then either have artificial insemination or, if needs be, can proceed directly to IVF. In some couples we have seen both partners want to be pregnant at the same time so both females want to carry the pregnancy; in other couples one of the partners may donate the eggs and the other partner may carry the baby. We have had many lesbian couples who, for the first child, the one partner gives the eggs and the other partner carries the pregnancy and when they come back for baby number 2 or 3 they change the partner as to who donates the eggs and the other partner then carries the baby or babies (as it turns out from time to time).

La Jolla IVF and Dr Smotrich have also been involved in creating families for several transgender patients from other countries — especially some couples from the United Kingdom. We are proud to report that in this particular patient category, even though the cases are quite complicated, all of these couples have left La Jolla IVF pregnant (in one way or another).


What services does La Jolla IVF offer to gay men wanting to have a child?

Gay males wanting to have a child/ children for obvious reasons need to use both an egg donor and a surrogate. We recommend a gestational surrogate as this form of surrogacy has the highest success rate as well as being the safest in terms of legalities. Over the many years that Dr Smotrich and La Jolla IVF have been involved with treating gay male singles and couples, we have been privileged to have worked with some of the oldest, most experienced and comprehensive egg donor and surrogate agencies. We assisted the patients in choosing the best egg donors and surrogates for their case and their particular needs. We are aware that some other IVF centers have their “own donor and /or surrogate agencies”. La Jolla IVF has always believed that there is some inherent sense of conflict in the doctor “owning “an agency as then certain egg donors and surrogates are perhaps “pushed” in some way onto the patients. We find that if the patients can have a wide array of choice in terms of both egg donors and surrogates, then their treatment cycles are invariably more successful.

Some gay couples wish to use only one of the partners’ sperm with an egg donor and surrogate. In other cases both partners want to be involved and they both give sperm for the case. In this situation, the egg donors’ eggs are split between the two members of the couple and we then have embryos that are created from both partners. Many of our gay couples also want the resulting embryos to be tested by PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) in which case we can test which embryos are normal chromosomally versus not and in fact the sex (male versus female) can also be determined. Many of our gay couples decide to place one embryo each and usually one of each sex. This is a very successful treatment with success rates over 80%. We do encourage patients to consider that it is probably better medically to have a singleton rather than multiple pregnancy for both the baby and the gestational carrier but for those couples who want to place an embryo from each, we are willing to do so if the surrogate is agreeable and all issues of this nature have been worked out between all the parties.


Which forms of surrogacy are available?

There are two forms of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy where the surrogate is genetically related to the child (as she donates the eggs as well as carrying the child). This form of surrogacy can be performed via artificial insemination or IVF; and gestational surrogacy where the surrogate acts only as the carrier and has no genetic link to the child as an egg donor donates the eggs for the cycle.

La Jolla IVF and Dr Smotrich recommend gestational surrogacy over traditional surrogacy as the preferred method of having a baby so there are no legal or psychological issues with the surrogate. We have never had any problems in the past but there may have been issues in some other clinics and so our choice is gestational surrogacy. Besides which, we have found that the pregnancy rates are considerably higher in gestational surrogacy than traditional surrogacy – which after all counts for a great deal!


Is there a typical LGBT person or couple who comes to La Jollla IVF?

There is not a typical LGBT person/couple who comes to La Jolla IVF for our services. We have patients from many countries, and all 50 states in the USA who come to our clinic for treatment. We have single males, gay couples, single lesbians, lesbian couples, couples who were straight and later in life decided to come out and transgender singles and couples. No two patients whether they are gay or straight are “typical”. All are individual and special and all their cases are treated on an individual basis.


How does one go about choosing a surrogate?

La Jolla IVF and Dr Smotrich work with many reputable agencies that we recommend patients to. The patients themselves should interview (over the phone) several agencies and either choose one or even ask several about what surrogates are available etc. La Jolla IVF is involved with helping the couple to choose the surrogate. If several surrogates are potentials, we look over all the medical records of the potential surrogates based on BMI of 30 or less, past pregnancies all being healthy, surrogate herself stable, how many C-sections has the surrogate had etc. There are many other criteria we look at to help the patients make an informed decision about which surrogate would best suit their needs and interests.

La Jolla IVF is based in San Diego. Would intended parents need to travel to San Diego for an initial consultation?

No, it is not necessary for international intended parents to travel to San Diego for an initial consultation. Most of our patients who are from out of town (both national and international) have their initial consultation with Dr Smotrich over the phone or via Skype. La Jolla IVF and Dr Smotrich have treated patients from 86 countries and the initial consultation, in many instances is done remotely.


How long would someone have to stay in San Diego for treatment?

The amount of time necessary to stay in San Diego for the actual treatment can vary according to the couple’s or patient’s needs. Some couples stay a few weeks; others can stay as short a period of time as several days to a week. This is also dependent on FDA infectious disease testing, donating sperm for the procedure and whether or not the intended parents wanted to stay for the egg donor’s oocyte retrieval and the gestational surrogate’s embryo transfer.


Why not adoption?

Adoption is a wonderful alternative for couples wanting children. It would appear, however, that it is difficult to obtain babies for adoption in the USA for example if you are a gay couple. It also now seems that it is quite unusual for foreign adoptions to be achieved very easily. In years past, we did have single-parent adoptions, where the single gay father or lesbian mother, commissioned a private adoption with the help of a lawyer. However, as the reproductive technology of third-party parenting came of age, LGBT patients decided that they would rather have children that they were biologically related to and so the creation of families through these high-tech strategies and treatments has become much more popular and, at least amongst our patients, it is their first choice.


What is the success rate of La Jolla IVF?

Over the past ten years La Jolla IVF and Dr Smotrich have performed over 550 gay surrogate cycles with a success rate of over 80% on the first attempt.

For lesbians, this success rate may vary depending on the age of the patient giving the eggs—the younger the better the success rate.


Why should an LGBT couple or person wanting to start a family choose La Jolla IVF?


  1. La Jolla IVF welcomes patients regardless of nationality, sexual orientation or marital status. Since 1997 Dr Smotrich has openly and willingly treated all gay and lesbian couples and La Jolla IVF is well known as being gay-friendly and very welcoming.
  2. La Jolla IVF has a proven track record, longevity, extensive experience, a record of innovation, and is very responsive to the needs of different groups of patients.
  3. La Jolla IVF’s laboratory has over 100 years of collective experience amongst our embryologists (indeed one of the embryologists himself belongs to the gay community). The laboratory has a record of innovation and depth of new treatments such as PGD and blastocyst transfer.
  4. California is the most surrogate-friendly location in the world and the law permits same-sex parents to both be recognised on their child’s birth certificate.
  5. Over 80% success rate on the first attempt for gay surrogacy.
  6. La Jolla IVF is truly an International practice with babies living on every continent in the world.