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Reciprocal IVF for Lesbians

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One increasingly popular option for lesbian partners wishing to have a child is reciprocal (also called partner) in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this option, one partner provides the eggs and the other partner carries the pregnancy. This is attractive to many couples because it allows both women to be physically involved in the pregnancy. This physical involvement can help heighten feelings of emotional involvement and connection to the pregnancy.

How Reciprocal IVF Works

Once a couple has decided to use reciprocal IVF, they will begin a process almost identical to standard IVF. Like other forms of reproductive assistance for lesbian couples, one of the first things to consider is sperm donation. Once a couple chooses a sperm donor, they will begin a process of synchronizing their menstrual cycles by taking oral contraceptive pills. The partner who is donating eggs will also take medications to stimulate the maturation of multiple eggs. The partner who will have the embryo implanted will take medications to help prepare the uterus for implantation. After 6 to 9 weeks, depending on how long it takes to synchronize the cycles, the eggs will be retrieved from one partner using ultrasound guidance and fertilized with the donor sperm in the laboratory. The embryo will then be placed in the uterus of the partner who will carry the pregnancy using a small catheter and she will be monitored for pregnancy. If pregnancy is achieved, prenatal care can begin.

What to Consider with Reciprocal IVF

The same considerations that apply to standard IVF also apply to reciprocal IVF. A couple needs to understand the processes and consider its success rates. Insurance may cover the process, depending on your insurance provider and policy. A couple must also carefully consider the role each partner will play and their expectations for the pregnancy. It is not uncommon for a couple to use reciprocal IVF for a second child, with their original donor and carrier roles reversed so that each woman gets to experience both childbearing and having a biological connection to the child.