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Reciprocal IVF: The Path to Shared Motherhood

By David Vasquez|June 1st, 2023

The journey to parenthood can be an incredibly rewarding and transformative experience for cisgender female couples. However, the path to having a biological child can be more complex. Thanks to advancements in reproductive technologies, new possibilities, and one such innovation is reciprocal in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this blog, we will explore the concept of reciprocal IVF. 

Understanding Reciprocal IVF

Reciprocal IVF, also known as "shared motherhood" or "partner IVF," is a technique that allows both partners in a lesbian couple to be involved in the process of creating a biological child. It involves the use of in vitro fertilization, where eggs are harvested from one partner, fertilized with donor sperm, and then transferred to the other partner's uterus for implantation and gestation.

The Process

  1. Ovarian Stimulation: The partner who will provide the eggs undergoes ovarian stimulation through the administration of fertility medications. These medications help stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs instead of the usual one during a natural menstrual cycle.
  2. Egg Retrieval: Once the eggs have reached maturity, they are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure called transvaginal ultrasound-guided follicle aspiration. This procedure is usually performed under light sedation or anesthesia to minimize discomfort.
  3. Fertilization: The retrieved eggs are then fertilized with donor sperm in the laboratory. 
  4. Embryo Transfer: The resulting embryos are cultured and monitored for a few days. Then, one or more embryos are carefully selected for transfer to the uterus of the partner who will carry the pregnancy. This step involves a nonsurgical procedure in which a catheter is used to transfer the embryos into the uterus.
  5. Pregnancy and Beyond: Following the embryo transfer, the partner who carried the pregnancy undergoes regular monitoring to assess the success of implantation and the development of the pregnancy. If successful, a healthy pregnancy progresses, leading to the birth of a child who has a genetic connection to one partner and a biological connection to the other.

Benefits of Reciprocal IVF

  1. Genetic Connection: Reciprocal IVF allows both partners to have a biological connection to their child. One partner provides the eggs, contributing her genetic material, while the other partner carries the pregnancy and experiences the physical bond with the growing baby.
  2. Emotional Connection: The shared experience of pregnancy and childbirth can deepen the emotional bond between both partners and enhance their sense of shared parenthood.
  3. Equal Involvement: Reciprocal IVF provides an opportunity for both partners to actively participate in the conception process, fostering a sense of equality and partnership within the relationship.
  4. Family-Building Options: For same-sex female couples, reciprocal IVF offers an alternative to traditional IVF or adoption, providing a unique opportunity to have a child biologically related to one or both partners. Request a consultation here.

Considerations and Challenges

  1. Emotional and Psychological Support: The fertility journey, including IVF, can be emotionally challenging for any couple. It is essential to have a supportive network of healthcare professionals, counselors, and loved ones to navigate the emotional aspects of the process. The Prelude Network fertility clinics offer inclusive care for all patients despite their gender identity or sexual orientation. 
  2. Financial Implications: IVF can be a costly endeavor, and reciprocal IVF involves additional steps and procedures. Each Prelude Network patient receives financial counseling. We have partnerships with Bundl, takes the financial stress out of the process by combining multiple fertility treatments into a single package for one reduced, up-front cost and Future Fertility, premium fertility financing.
  3. Legal and Parental Rights: It is crucial to consult with legal professionals who specialize in family law to ensure that both partners' parental rights and legal recognition are established and protected.

Next Steps

Reciprocal IVF has revolutionized the landscape of family-building options for same-sex female couples by allowing both partners to actively participate in the conception and pregnancy journey. The Prelude Network® provides compassionate, inclusive fertility care to help you build the family of your dreams. Request a consultation here.