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Men Having Babies – Surrogacy seminar & gay parenting expo April 14-15 in Chicago

Dr. Guy Ringler is one of the featured speakers at the two-day Men Having Babies Midwest – 2018 Surrogacy Seminar & Gay Parenting Expo that will be held April 14-15 in Chicago.

Dr. Guy Ringler featured speaker at Men Having Babies :: dr. guy ringler
Dr. Guy Ringler featured speaker at Men Having Babies 
credit :: dr. guy ringler
It also is a homecoming of sorts for Ringler, 61, who lives in Los Angeles and is a partner with California Fertility Partners.

The conference features practical and personal peer advice and opportunities from leading providers from across the U.S. at the Gay Parenting Expo (with both surrogacy and adoption/foster care resources), breakout sessions and in-private consultations.

In-depth programs will offer insights from the latest studies about contemporary gestational surrogacy, and specialty panels on insurance, budgeting, medical and psychological aspects of surrogacy.  Proceeds from sponsorship and exhibiting fees will benefit the Gay Parenting Assistance Program.

"The conference is open to everyone interested in having children of their own but don't know how to get started.  They can meet with professionals from all areas of the family-building process:  IVF clinics, surrogacy agencies, egg donor agencies, reproductive attorneys, and successful dads," said Ringler, who last year joined the board of Men Having Babies – a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide information and resources for gay men interested in having children, and to provide financial grants to eligible gay men who want to start a family but lack all of the financial resources to achieve their dream.

"It's exciting to be returning to the city in which I started my professional career and to talk with men who want to have children of their own.  When I was living and working in Chicago, none of these reproductive options were available, and I'm extremely proud to be able to offer these treatment options to my patients today."

After graduation from medical school in Detroit in 1983, Ringler moved to Chicago to start his residency in OB/GYN at the University of Chicago.  He lived in Hyde Park for his first two years in Chicago, then moved to Lincoln Park near DePaul University.

"I came out during my latter years in medical school and saw the move to Chicago as an opportunity to explore the gay scene," Ringler said.  "Even though I worked and studied long hours at the hospital, many Saturday nights were free to explore the gay bars on the north side.  We drank beer and watched music videos, a new thing at the time, at Sidetrack, and danced the night away at (since-closed) Paradise.  It was a fun time and provided a great opportunity to make new gay friends.

"After completing my fellowship training in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Pennsylvania, I joined an infertility practice in Los Angeles that produced some of the world's first IVF babies and published many of the early studies in IVF medicine."

Ringler is now one of the world's first fertility doctors to help gay men become parents.

"As a gay fertility doctor who came out during a time when gay men often had to suppress their sexuality and forget about the hope of having children of their own, I was excited and challenged when first approached over 20 years ago by a gay couple to help them build a family of their own," he said.  "By applying all of the skills I had acquired in my professional training, utilizing donated eggs and surrogacy, we were able to achieve their goal of having a baby.

"They wanted their child to be an expression of their love for each other and to contain a mixture of their genes.  We did this by using the sister of one dad as the egg donor and the sperm of the other dad as the sperm provider.  They conceived with the first embryo transfer into their surrogate, who happened to be their neighbor.

"Since that first successful case, I have been committed to helping gay men follow their dreams of having children.  In the early years, most intended parents were in their 40s to 50s.  Today, we are seeing young gay men in their 20s and 30s pursue family-building through reproductive medicine.  Some of these young dads-to-be are receiving financial assistance from their parents who want to help them become parents – and, of course, who themselves want to become grandparents."

Two of Ringler's first LGBT patients were a gay couple from London.  They were the first gay couple in the United Kingdom to have children through egg donation and surrogacy.  They now have five children and continue to share their story with the world to help open hearts and minds to gay family-building.

"It's important to share stories," Ringler said.  "Several years ago, as a board member of the American Fertility Association, I had the honor of presenting an award to Sir Elton John and David Furnish for sharing their story of having children through surrogacy with the world.  These stories teach people across the globe about the reproductive possibilities available today.

Today I'm seeing gay men from around the world who come to the U.S. for reproductive care.  We have some of the world's finest IVF programs, egg donor and surrogacy agencies, and permissive reproductive laws, which enable them to safely build their families.

"Several years ago I gave a seminar in China on gay family-building.  We didn't know if anyone would attend, or if we would get shut down. Two hundred gay men and lesbian women attended the Shanghai conference.  They were excited and extremely happy to hear about the wonderful treatment options open to them.  It was a beautiful experience for all."

Ringler, who is a gay family-building spokesperson for GLAAD, was recognized by the American Fertility Association (AFA) with an Achievement Award.

"I was given a Family Building achievement award from the American Fertility Association (now Path 2 Parenthood) for the work that I've done to help build families for the LGBT community," he said.

"My best advice for anyone hoping to have children is to talk to someone and explore your options. That could be your doctor, a fertility doctor like myself, a surrogacy agency.  Today most anything is possible.

"My advice for men just starting out is to have their semen tested.  They should ask their doctor for a semen analysis, a basic screening test for sperm count and motility.  Treatment to improve sperm numbers can take several months to see an impact, so it's best to diagnose the problem early.  Men planning to start their family should avoid travel to any area with active zika infection, as they need to wait six months after visiting a zika area before using their sperm."

Men Having Babies has similar events in other cities throughout the year.  Each one shares a similar story about love – "because that's why most of us are working in this space, for the love of family and the joy we see in the faces of people who are able to start the families they have always wanted," Ringler said.

Ringler will be Sunday afternoon as part of a medical panel on IVF.  "I'm also happy to talk one-on-one with anyone at the conference who's interested in more information," he said.  "As always, I'll share my insights into the key first steps on the path of surrogacy and try to inspire gay men to see the possibility of a family in their lives."

He added, "The work I do with other LGBT people is the most rewarding of my career. For so many years I didn't see the possibility of gay men having children.  Yet ever since those first patients, I've made helping other people in our community a focus of my work."

For more information about the Men Having Babies Midwest – 2018 Surrogacy Seminar & Gay Parenting Expo, which is April 14-15 at the Center on Halsted, go to: www.menhavingbabies.org/surrogacy-seminars/chicago/
 
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