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What is Reciprocal IVF?

Reciprocal IVF is a procedure that allows both partners in a lesbian couple to participate in the pregnancy. One woman’s eggs are used, and fertilized with donated sperm. Then the resulting embryos are implanted into the other woman to carry the pregnancy. Not only does that allow for participation from both partners, but it also means they can choose which one of them will provide eggs and be the biological mother, and which one will be the gestational carrier for their future child.

The risks that come with reciprocal IVF are the same as standard IVF treatments, with the only difference being that a procedure will be performed on both women. There are many legal and emotional issues that come with reciprocal IVF, and getting counseling in both of those areas is important for lesbian couples who want to pursue this option. However, there can also be many benefits. The largest benefit is generally the strengthening of the bond the couple is building together as they work to create their family.

Sometimes, lesbian couples choose reciprocal IVF for their first child together, and then reverse their roles for their second child. They may also choose to undergo simultaneous reciprocal IVF, so that both women are carrying the child of their partner at the same time. Depending on the health history of both partners, one of them may be a safer choice to carry the child. In other instances, it’s not an obvious choice for safety or health reasons, and the women can choose what they prefer.

By taking medications to synchronize menstrual cycles, the transition from egg donation to implantation of embryos can be just a matter of a few days. Frozen eggs or embryos can also be used. Lesbian couples who are considering reciprocal IVF should make sure they understand the legal implications, and how they will handle the potential for divorce or death of one partner in the future, to help protect their children.

Dr. Minoos Hosseinzadeh, founder and director at Fertility Institute of San Diego, has been a proud supporter of the LGBTQ+ community by helping build families for over 25+ years. For more information on reciprocal IVF for LGBTQ fertility options, book a free consultation by clicking here. 

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