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Reciprocal IVF for Lesbian Couples

30 May, 2017

What is Reciprocal IVF?

It is now possible for a same-sex female couple to be both involved in the conception of a baby.
This can help strengthen the bond that both of the partners have with the child and indeed with each other.

Reciprocal IVF involves one of the partners donating their eggs for IVF and then the other partner is the carrier and completes the pregnancy.  There are opportunities for future pregnancies if neither party has fertility issues. How does it work?

Firstly the menstrual cycles of both parties are synchronised so that both parties are ready for treatment at the same time.  Should neither of the parties have fertility issues, then either can be the egg donor or the carrier.  The donating partner goes through a process known as ovarian stimulation, which encourages the production of multiple eggs.

Those eggs are then extracted and fertilizied in the laboratory with donor sperm.
The carrying partner, will be prepared for embryonic transfer.

When ready a number of embryos can be transferred through In Vitro Fertilisation to her uterus.
Should all proceed well then an embryo will implant in the uterus and will grow into a baby.

The fertilized embryos can however be frozen and transferred at a later date when the couple is ready and when the carrying partner is suitably prepared by hormonal treatment.

The process is the same as for a standard IVF procedure. It is possible for both partners to reverse the role should they both be free of fertility problems. They can go on and have a second child with reversed roles with each party having the opportunity to  experience both pregnancy and childbirth.

If the couple elect to use the same sperm donor, the resultant children are then half-siblings.

What are the success rates?

There are strong success rates with reciprocal IVF (ROPA).  To try and make this effective, the donating party undergoes a series of tests.

At Barcelona IVF the tests involve hormone analysis, tests to exclude genetic abnormalities as well as tests to exclude transmittable diseases.

There are higher levels of success rates in women under 39 years old, success rates do fall as the women get older.

Are there risks from donation?

Multiple pregnancy can occur if more than one embryo is transferred.
There are really good success rates with this procedure, many opt to transfer one embryo to minimise the chance of twin pregnancy.

Any remaining fertilised embryos are frozen. There are no guarantees. Some parties can experience side effects such as nausea from the drugs used to prepare the carrier for pregnancy.

Preparing my endometrium?

Treatment begins with estrogens to ensure the uterus is ready to accept the embryos.
Once the eggs are retrieved from the donor progesterone is added to ensure that the endometrium is receptive to the embryos on the day.

How does the transfer work?

There is no aesthesia required, the embryo is transferred via a catheter via the cervix placing the embryos directly into the uterus.

What can be done to increase success?

Like any treatment, minimizing stress, staying healthy and completing the fertility drug treatments procedure is important.


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