What is reciprocal IVF?
Also known as partner-assisted reproduction, reciprocal IVF is an innovative process that allows lesbian or transgender couples to have biological children. With reciprocal IVF, a member of the couple provides viable eggs while the other carries the child to term. This process presents a unique opportunity for couples to share in biological parenthood. Reciprocal IVF follows the same process as standard IVF, where eggs are retrieved, and an embryo is created outside the body. The only difference is that the embryo is then transferred into the uterus of the partner who did not supply the egg.
Breaking down the joint process
When embarking on a reciprocal IVF journey, the couple will first need to decide who will provide the eggs and who will carry the child. This decision depends on a combination of factors, including age, health, fertility, and personal preference. Once a decision has been made, the individual providing the eggs will take fertility medication to increase egg production in the ovaries. The eggs are then retrieved by the fertility team and combined with donor sperm in the lab to create embryos. At this point, the partner planning to carry the pregnancy may require fertility medication to prepare for embryo transfer and implantation. The final stage of reciprocal IVF involves transferring the embryo and waiting for pregnancy.
Successes, outcomes and limitations
Reciprocal IVF has high success rates, often because couples are younger and healthier. Like IVF, underlying health, age, embryo quality, and the fertility clinic’s expertise all influence the outcome. There are also limitations to the procedure. Like standard IVF patients, some couples undergoing reciprocal IVF need multiple cycles to achieve a pregnancy. There is also the challenge of finding a suitable sperm donor. For many patients, IVF is an emotionally and physically taxing experience. The added layer of choosing who will be the biological parent can be even more stressful. Open communication and a supportive medical team will make an already stressful process easier.
The future of reciprocal IVF
As ART advances, the reciprocal IVF procedure will be more accessible and affordable to the LGBTQ+ community. Genetic testing and other techniques currently allow clinics to reduce the chances of failure. With time, the procedure will become more accessible, and fertility clinics will become even better at producing positive outcomes.
You can build a family too
The fertility journey can be stressful for all individuals, regardless of gender or sexual preference. Some couples may require ART to increase the chances of pregnancy. With reciprocal IVF, LGBTQ+ patients can also share in the joys of parenthood. Finding a helpful, compassionate fertility clinic is the first step to success. With access to comprehensive reproductive care, the journey to parenthood is possible.