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What Is Reciprocal IVF and How Does It Work?

Posted on: March 1st, 2022 by GIVF Admin

What Is Reciprocal IVF?

Reciprocal IVF is a fertility treatment using in vitro fertilization (IVF) that gives lesbian couples the opportunity for both partners to share in the process of building their family. In the most common form of reciprocal IVF, one partner goes through IVF treatments using her eggs, while the other partner is prepared for embryo transfer and to carry the baby as the gestational carrier.

The couple discusses the process with their fertility specialist, and sometimes an emotional counselor, to decide which one will donate the egg and who will carry the child. Whichever they decide, both partners are an integral part of having their baby.

During the IVF process, often more than one viable embryo is created. Some couples decide to freeze any additional embryos to use for future biologically related children. This can also provide both women the opportunity to carry a child.

Some patients choose to undergo dual reciprocal IVF, where each woman carries an embryo using their partner’s eggs. This is a process that can be done simultaneously, or within a few years of each other.


Through reciprocal IVF both mothers can experience a physical connection to their child. One as the biological “egg donor” and the other through pregnancy, giving birth, and breast feeding.


Who Can Benefit from Reciprocal IVF?

Reciprocal IVF is an excellent option for a variety of fertility challenges. It not only provides lesbian couples with a chance to share in the pregnancy experience, it can be helpful to women who have healthy eggs but require a gestational carrier. Reciprocal IVF is also an option for trans men who froze their eggs prior to transition and would like to use a surrogate to carry a child that is biologically related to them. For those patients looking to hire a surrogate, we partner with several surrogacy agencies, such as Fairfax Surrogacy, to help make the process easier.


What patients should consider before choosing reciprocal IVF.

Patients wishing to undergo reciprocal IVF should be aware of the potential risks involved in the IVF process. As with any medical procedure there is a slight risk of infection. Also, the medications used to stimulate egg growth can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which may require medical treatment. However, it is extremely rare and only occurs in 1-3% of IVF patients.

Patients should also consider their state’s legal policies on their rights pertaining to their partners medical care and their children’s guardianship. For example, in certain states the woman whose eggs are used for the embryo is required to adopt their child to have the same parental rights as the woman who carried the baby. It is recommended that the couple contact a lawyer who is experienced in IVF and surrogacy law in their state before beginning the reciprocal IVF process.


What Is the Reciprocal IVF Process?

Similar to a conventional IVF process, there are four basic steps for reciprocal IVF: ovulation induction, egg retrieval, fertilization, and embryo transfer.

After both partners complete health screenings and fertility assessments, they decide on who will donate the egg and who will carry the child. Once that is established, both women take medications that will sync their menstrual cycles. Once their cycles are synchronized, the eggs are retrieved from one partner, fertilized with donated sperm then transferred to the second partner within a matter of days.

The timeline can be slightly longer if the couple chooses to include preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) in their process. Also, future embryo transfers from frozen embryos will not require synchronizing the cycles of the patients. This can reduce the timeline considerably for the couple.


How To Get Started with Reciprocal IVF Treatment.

If you’re ready to begin the reciprocal IVF process, contact us and schedule an initial consultation with one of our fertility specialists. They will review your medical history, your fertility options, and your family-building goals to help you start on your parenting journey. Contact us today to get started.

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