Definition - What does Reciprocal IVF mean?
Reciprocal IVF is a method of in vitro fertilization (IVF) that allows both partners of a lesbian couple to be involved in the conception of their baby. In this scenario, the eggs of one woman would be retrieved and inseminated with donor sperm. The resulting embryo would then be transferred to the other woman's uterus in the hopes implantation will occur. This partner would then carry the pregnancy and give birth to the baby.
Reciprocal IVF is also called partner IVF.
FertilitySmarts explains Reciprocal IVF
The process of reciprocal IVF is almost identical to that of standard IVF. It is a popular procedure among lesbian couples who both want to be physically involved in the conception of their child.
Because of their distinct roles in the process of conception, each partner would undergo different procedures. Prior to beginning these procedures, it is likely that the women's menstrual cycles will be synchronized using oral contraceptive pills. This allows the timing of egg maturation in one partner and endometrial thickening in the other partner to coincide, as they would normally in one woman's cycle.
The partner providing the eggs would take hormonal medications to stimulate her ovaries to mature multiple follicles. Once mature, a vaginal ultrasound-guided procedure would be performed to retrieve the eggs that were released from the mature follicles. The best eggs would be selected and either frozen for later use or fertilized with donor sperm. Once the eggs have been fertilized and the resulting embryos have reached the 3 or 5 day point, they can be transferred to the other partner's uterus for implantation.
The endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) of the partner who will be carrying the pregnancy needs to thicken to prepare for implantation. She may need to take hormonal medications to aid in this process. Syncing menstrual cycles between partners allows for the uterus to be ready for implantation at the same time that the embryos are ready for transfer. Once an embryo implants, the woman will become the gestational carrier of the child.