Reciprocal IVF

Reciprocal in vitro fertilization, or reciprocal IVF, allows both lesbian partners to take part in the miracle of pregnancy

Advances in reproductive medicine allow the Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine to offer a unique family-building service known as reciprocal IVF. Lesbian couples often come to our Southern California fertility center and tell Robert E. Anderson, MD, that they both wish to be involved with the pregnancy. Reciprocal IVF makes this possible by allowing both women to physically participate in the pregnancy.

Our Southern California fertility center carefully manages reciprocal IVF cycles to increase the likelihood of pregnancy

Reciprocal IVF is very similar to traditional IVF; however, there is one exception. With reciprocal IVF, one woman will provide her eggs for fertilization with the donor sperm, while the other woman will carry the pregnancy and deliver the baby. Beyond that, the procedures are virtually identical.

  • The first step of reciprocal IVF involves taking a comprehensive medical history and undergoing a physical exam and blood testing. This screening is meant to ensure that the partner who is donating her eggs is healthy and fertile.
  • If Dr. Anderson finds no problems during the screening process, he will give the egg donor fertility medication to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
  • Once the follicles containing the eggs are mature, Dr Anderson will perform egg retrieval using ultrasound guidance. These eggs will be fertilized with the donor sperm in our IVF lab. The embryos will then undergo PGS to identify the normal ones.
  • Then, Dr. Anderson will give hormone treatments to the other partner to prepare her uterus to carry the pregnancy.
  • During the final step, Dr Anderson will transfer a normal embryo into the uterus of the woman who will carry the pregnancy. When she becomes pregnant, her pregnancy should proceed normally.

It is important for lesbian couples to decide who will play which role in the reciprocal IVF process

Our Southern California fertility center team knows that the next most important decision, after deciding on reciprocal IVF and selecting a sperm donor, is deciding which partner will donate the egg and which partner will carry the pregnancy. To help make this decision, Dr Anderson encourages couples to consider several factors.

  • Age is an important consideration. Women under the age of 35 have healthier eggs and better IVF success rates. If there is an age difference, Dr Anderson will likely recommend that the younger partner provide the egg.
  • It’s equally important to consider the fertility and health of each partner. If one partner struggles with infertility, then she is probably not the ideal egg donor. However, she could still be perfectly capable of carrying the pregnancy. Conversely, if one partner is unable to carry a pregnancy for some reason, she still may be able to donate her eggs.
  • It’s also important to consider which partner has a desire to be pregnant. If one partner wants to get pregnant and the other has no desire to carry a pregnancy, then deciding who should play which role can be easy. As a result, Dr Anderson recommends that all patients interested in reciprocal IVF discuss the roles they will play.

Curious to learn more about reciprocal IVF? Please contact the Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine today.