Science is almost a miracle when you see the new inventions. The latest development since 2009 has enabled couples of the same sex to grow their families and bring home a baby. Yes, it is true that now with the help of donor sperm and fertility options like IVF and IUI; thousands of female LGBT partners or lesbian couples have been able to become parents of babies with a biological connection to at least one partner.
The process of producing children by couples who both have female reproductive organs is called Reciprocal IVF or Partner-assisted reproduction or shared motherhood or Partner IVF or even co-IVF sometimes. According to a survey in 2018 revealed that there was a 60% live birth rate in a group of 120 lesbian couples who opted for reciprocal IVF.
How Does Reciprocal IVF work?
Reciprocal IVF is the process in which one partner acts as an egg donor to the other.
Usually in IVF, the eggs are retrieved after the female’s ovaries are stimulated with hormone medication. Then the eggs are fertilized with sperm in the laboratory under controlled conditions and one or more embryos are created. As the embryos develop within 3-5 days, one is transferred into the uterus resulting in pregnancy.
In Partner-assisted IVF or reciprocal IVF, one partner goes through the stimulation of medicines and acts as the egg donor. Their eggs are retrieved and fertilized in the laboratory using donor sperm. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus of the other partner who is willing to carry the pregnancy. One partner is the egg donor while the other partner is the gestational carrier of pregnancy.
Alternatively, the partners may opt for egg freezing so that they can use it at a later date. They can be transferred (FET-Frozen Egg Transfer) to the other partner when they wish to have a baby.
This process ensures each partner is the biological mother of the child. The menstrual cycle of both the partners is synchronized so that they are receptive to the treatment at the same time. Reciprocal IVF is gaining popularity as it helps the same-sex partners carry out the family and strengthen the bond within the child and within themselves.
How to choose who will Provide Eggs and who will get Pregnant?
This is more of a personal choice and a decision by both the partners mutually. However, there are certain criteria that may be looked at for better results. They are as follows:
The younger the partner, the better the eggs will be. It is advisable to use the younger partner’s eggs as the quality and quantity declines as the age increases.
- Plans for future pregnancies
In case the couple wants to plan more than one baby, they can take turns carrying the pregnancies. This can be done using the leftover eggs or embryos from the earlier IVF or a fresh cycle of reciprocal IVF may be done.
It is also possible that both the partners undergo IVF at the same time and get pregnant at the same time. It is also feasible that one partner acts as an egg donor with one child and may reverse the role in second childbirth so that both can have biological link with the children and experience pregnancy and childbirth as well.
- Desire to experience Childbirth
The feeling of getting pregnant and experiencing childbirth is usually stronger in one partner and with mutual consent that partner can become the carrier of pregnancy.
- Medical Health
Both the partners must discuss the genetic as well as the medical health conditions with the gynecologist to determine who stands a better chance to be an egg donor and who is a better pregnancy carrier.
Dr. Shivani Bhutani is a leading fertility expert in Punjab and has helped many couples in reciprocal IVF successfully. She says that one should change with the changing times and why devoid yourself of the beauty of motherhood when reciprocal IVF can help you achieve it. Contact Dr. Bhutani for any medical, insurance and technical aspects of shared motherhood and go ahead with the family planning.