Reciprocal IVF is a process that enables both women and transgender men in LGBTQ+ relationships to actively participate in growing their families. This relatively new development in fertility medicine has become increasingly popular as one of the most sought-after methods for family planning.
If both members of the couple are healthy from a reproductive standpoint, this approach can be quite liberating and has proven to be popular with some of our same sex female couples as well as transgender men. After appropriate medical screening and workup, one partner undergoes ovarian stimulation. Eggs are then retrieved in the typical clinical fashion.
The eggs are then mixed with sperm obtained from a suitable sperm donor of their choosing. The resulting embryos can then be tested genetically and subsequently transferred into the prepared uterus of the other partner. Supernumerary embryos can be cryopreserved for later use.
Now that we have covered how the reciprocal IVF process works, let’s look at it more closely. The reciprocal IVF process involves the following steps:
Medical Screening and Workup
The reciprocal IVF process begins with both a fertility screening and workup of both partners. This is to ensure that both partners are medically able to undergo the reciprocal IVF process and to increase the chances of success.
The partner who will be donating the egg undergoes ovarian stimulation. This is often done through medication or hormone therapy. As the treatment progresses, the donor should have a higher amount of quality, viable eggs that will be ready for use in the IVF process.
Once the eggs are ready, they will be retrieved through a minor surgical procedure. This is done by inserting a needle into the ovary and collecting the eggs.
Donor sperm will be collected and mixed with the eggs that were retrieved. This is done in order to fertilize the eggs and create embryos.
The donated egg and sperm will be combined to create an embryo. This is completed in a sterile and highly controlled laboratory setting.
After embryos have been created from the donated reproductive material, they will be transferred into the uterus of the person who will become pregnant with baby. This is done through a catheter and is a relatively simple procedure.
If additional embryos are produced through the reciprocal IVF process, you can elect to have them cryopreserved. This can save time and money if you plan to have future children through this process again by accessing another embryo that contains the same genetic material as your previous child.
The reciprocal IVF approach enables both members of the couple to participate in the miracle of having children by Assisted Reproductive Treatments. It can be particularly useful if one partner has undergone a hysterectomy, or has a medical contraindication to pregnancy. In successful cases, the resulting offspring can be raised knowing that both of their parents were able to participate fully in their genesis.
If there are extra embryos left over for freezing, a subsequent pregnancy could be achieved by preparing the uterus of the partner who did not carry the initial pregnancy. There can be important psychological advantages of such an approach, and in our experience, we have noted that couples treated with reciprocal IVF are often quite vocal in expressing their true joy at this arrangement.
Though some transgender men may be medically able to become pregnant, they do not wish to. This could be due to reasons such as not wanting to cease testosterone therapy or viewing pregnancy as an experience that is at odds with their identities as men. Reciprocal IVF allows transgender men to donate reproductive material to their female partners in order to create a child that is linked to both partners through the journey of pregnancy.