Reciprocal IVF is a fertility treatment used by lesbian couples who want to have an equally connected experience during their pregnancy, labor and delivery journey. It’s also an option for same-sex female couples where one partner has a known infertility factor at work.
In a nutshell, reciprocal IVF takes place when the egg from one woman is fertilized using donor sperm. The resulting embryo(s) are then transferred into the uterus of the partner choosing to carry the baby. So one woman is the egg donor, and her partner becomes the gestational carrier.
How does reciprocal IVF work?
First, we recommend both women go through the full fertility testing process. Many of the most common female infertility factors are invisible in terms of symptoms. Testing allows us to see if one or both women share optimal IVF success rates.
If one or both women have issues that may compromise their IVF success rates, we recommend using the mother who has the best chances or we may advise using of an egg donor and/or a separate gestational carrier.
In most cases, one or both women are great candidates for reciprocal IVF.
Reciprocal IVF looks just like traditional IVF
After the couple has decided which one will contribute the egg, and which one will carry the baby, the process looks very similar to traditional IVF.
- Fertility meds stimulate ovulation. We’ll use fertility medications to stimulate ovulation, and then retrieve the eggs when they’re ready to be released. Our goal is to at least 12 eggs, giving us a better chance of creating healthy embryos.
- We fertilize your eggs. The eggs are fertilized in the lab using your selected donor sperm. After we know how many eggs have been fertilized, we recommend taking advantage of PGT (preimplantation genetic testing) to determine which embryos are the healthiest for transfer. This is the best way to avoid transferring an embryo that has a chromosomal or genetic disorder. Depending on your fertility timeline, we can transfer fresh embryos, or we’ll freeze the embryos so they’re ready to go when you plan to get pregnant.
- Time for transfer. Usually, we use birth control medications to sync your menstrual cycle with your preferred embryo transfer day. In unassisted pregnancies, fertilized eggs typically implant into the uterus wall at around Day 5 after ovulation. The IVF process works best when we emulate Mother Nature, so we’ll transfer the embryo(s) five days after the recipient ovulates. This procedure takes place in our office, under mild sedation, so it’s best to return home and relax for the rest of the day. If possible – it’s nice to take a day or two off afterward to process the experience in a calmer and more relaxed environment, although that’s not necessary and returning to work shouldn’t affect your pregnancy chances.
The goal is to create one healthy baby at a time, but there are cases where couples choose to transfer two embryos, or where we may recommend the transfer to two embryos to increase the chances of success during your first IVF cycle.
Now, you both get to experience The Two Week Wait, to find out whether or not you’re pregnant, after which it’s time to transfer to your OB/GYN and/or midwife of choice.
Interested in taking turns?
One of the great things about reciprocal IVF is that couples interested in having more than one child can take turns. When you’re ready to have Baby #2, we can use a frozen embryo from the first round, or you can reverse the process entirely, and we can retrieve eggs from the previous recipient.
Are you interested in learning more about reciprocal IVF or ready to embark on your family building journey? Schedule a consultation with the Fertility Center of Dallas. We’re proud to serve the Dallas-area LGBT community.