Reciprocal IVF is one of the multiple options available to same-sex, female couples – as well as transgender men- who want to have a child. Unlike gay men or transgender women, who require a gestational carrier to support their family building dreams, women in same-sex relationships – including transgender men who have functional ovaries and/or a uterus – have multiple ART options One of them is called reciprocal IVF.
If you are interested in the reproductive options for LGBTQ+ community, visit our page dedicated to LGBTQ Family Building.
Reciprocal IVF: The Basics
Also called co-maternity, the concept of reciprocal IVF allows both women to have a physiological and/or biological connection to the baby in one of multiple ways. In most cases, Partner A contributes her eggs (genetic material) and Partner B enjoys the psychological connection to the baby via pregnancy, labor and – if desired – breastfeeding.
If they choose, the parents can alternate roles the next time around.
Both individuals require a fertility workup
In most cases, reciprocal IVF requires both women (or transgender men) to have a healthy female reproductive tract, high-quality eggs, and a working uterus. The latter is what allows transgender men to carry a baby. However, if you are a transgender male intending to contribute eggs or carry a baby, schedule an appointment with your endocrinologist to discuss the rigors of hormone therapy reversal and potential side effects.
Because ART is an investment, it is important that both partners undergo a full fertility workup and diagnostics. We never want to assume anything and, if your test results reveal a potential infertility factor, that allows us to create a more customized treatment plan or to choose the optimal egg/womb combination for a full-term, healthy pregnancy.
The general IVF timeline remains the same
In many ways, the general IVF timeline used by cis-gender, heterosexual couples remains the same. The difference is that rather than the same person contributing both the eggs and her uterus for the pregnancy, one partner typically contributes the eggs and the other carries the baby after a fertilized embryo is transferred. If desired, the partners can swap roles for future pregnancies.
Carry the baby using your partner’s eggs
The most common option is to use one woman’s eggs and another’s womb. In this model, the partner contributing the eggs undergoes an egg retrieval cycle. Just like traditional IVF, we use injectable fertility medications and carefully monitored appointments to determine the best time to trigger the release of multiple eggs (oocytes). These are then frozen or used fresh to create embryos using donor sperm.
If you are a transgender man, and you’ve already frozen your eggs as part of a fertility preservation treatment plan, we’ll use those eggs for the reciprocal IVF process. If transgender men without hysterectomies opt to contriubte their eggs or become gestational carrier, we can support that model of reciprocal IVF as well.
Once the embryos are created, we sync transfer for a time that is convenient for the recipient’s schedule. We typically use birth control pills to sync your menstrual/ovulation cycle, transferring the fertilized embryos around Day 5, when the uterine lining is the most hospitable to successful implantation.
We can use donor eggs for either womb
If it turns out that there is an infertility factor in the mix, such as a low ovarian reserve or a history of recurrent miscarriages thought to be a result of poor-quality eggs, couples have the option of using donor eggs to create embryos. Then, either partner can serve as the gestational carrier for future pregnancies as long as there is a healthy uterus and pregnancy hormone balance.
Most reciprocal IVF cycles cost around $20,00, including the fertility testing, all of the related treatment appointments, fertility medication, and monitoring. Fortunately, there are financing options available:
- Single cycle financing. If the individual contributing the eggs is 34 years old or younger (optimally no older than 37), and both of you feel confident about your fertility health, you can finance a single cycle of IVF and hope the odds are in your favor for a successful outcome. Your outcome may be improved by transferring two embryos if you’re willing to embrace the idea of twins and your health supports a positive outcome.
- Multiple-cycle discounts. Most healthy, reciprocal IVF candidates can assume it will take as many as three cycles to achieve a healthy, full-term pregnancy. This is why fertility centers offer multiple cycle financing, which saves you thousands of dollars. And, because most couples participating in reciprocal IVF have healthy reproductive tracts, the IVF success rates are higher, so your odds of a successful embryo transfer within three cycles are higher than most typical IVF patients.
- Military discounts. Are you or your partner active military or veterans? Our fertility clinic, along with many others, offer special pricing tiers for active members of the military, as well as veterans.
Are you interested in learning more about reciprocal IVF and whether it’s the best option to start your family? Schedule a consultation with Fertility Solutions.