Reciprocal IVF, also called also known as “Co-IVF”, “shared motherhood”, “partner-assisted reproduction” and “partner IVF” allows both partners in a lesbian or trans-man couple to contribute to the conception and carrying of their child.
The treatment option involves one partner going through the process of ovarian stimulation, so they may produce additional, mature eggs, which are then procured via egg retrieval and then joined with sperm (often donor sperm) in a lab in the process of embryo creation. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the uterus of the other female partner who has been deemed medically capable of carrying a pregnancy.
Reciprocal IVF treatment offers an inclusive experience to both parents, as long as one may provide a healthy egg and the other a functional and uninhibited uterus. As such, one parent may have a genetic connection to their child and the other parent may experience the connection and bonding of first-hand pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, if so desired.
Medical Contributor, Dr. Kristen Cain, Kindbody board-certified Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinologist, below provides an outline of both the first steps as well as a more in-depth outline of each patients’ experience.
“For the egg providing parent, we need to get eggs, right? So the evaluation will focus on egg health and genetics. This parent will need to undergo IVF to develop and remove eggs so they can be fertilized with donor sperm. This is a 2-week process that involves daily injections and several visits for ultrasounds and blood work. Retrieving eggs is done with anesthesia, so you would need a day off from work. For the pregnant parent, we focus on the uterus and the overall health of the woman to carry a pregnancy. So we will need to do testing of the uterus, check CMV status to compare with the sperm donor, and make sure all vaccinations are up to date and all medical problems are as well-controlled as possible. Then we prepare the uterus with hormones which might be given orally, topically, vaginally, or by injection. The prep process involves 2 visits to check the uterus and a visit to transfer the embryo. On transfer day, we have you take the day off but anesthesia is not required.”
It is worth noting that those interested in this modern and inclusive approach to parenthood may require the additional layer of security of speaking with a licensed family law attorney familiar with the parentage laws in the state of domicile or treatment.
Interested in taking the first steps towards parenthood? Schedule with one of Kindbody’s compassionate physicians who listen.
1.) Partner A is provided fertility drugs (most often injectable hormones) which stimulate egg growth ovaries so that the normal single egg is matured for retrieval.
2.) Eggs are retreivec
The individual contributing their eggs is also given fertility drugs to prevent the eggs from spontaneously ovulating. (If the eggs ovulate on their own, they will be lost and unavailable to use for IVF.) The egg growth is monitored with sometimes daily blood work and transvaginal ultrasounds.
Once the eggs are mature, they are retrieved using an ultrasound-guided needle.
Couples who are considering reciprocal IVF are encouraged to begin considering which role each partner is best suited for. Family health background, inheritable traits, and the couples lifestyle as well as their schedules and individual health should be discussed. The sperm source is also a decision worth consideration.
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