Reciprocal IVF: Her Bun, My Oven

“Reciprocal in vitro fertilization” is a term to describe when a same sex female couple retrieves eggs from one partner, inseminates them and returns the embryo to the other partner.  This process allows for both partners' to be involved in the conception and gestation of their child. 

During a reciprocal IVF cycle, both partners menstrual cycles must be synchronized with birth control pills and Lupron.  This is to ensure both cycles mimic all of the phases a natural conception.  Both women will be tightly controlled with hormones to facilitate this.  The partner that will contribute the eggs to create the embryo undergoes a cycle of ovarian stimulation to produce and mature multiple follicles which contain eggs.  When the follicles are mature, the eggs are retrieved through the vagina using an ultrasound to guide the doctor.  Once retrieved, the eggs are taken to a laboratory where they are examined and fertilized with donor sperm.  The embryos will have grown in the lab to the 3 or 5 day mark.

During the time that the embryos are growing, the partner that will carry the pregnancy takes hormones to prepare her uterine lining.  Her uterus must be synchronized with the stage of development of the embryos.  The partner that contributed the eggs will not need to take these hormones.  At the appropriate time, the couple will return to the clinic and embryos will be transferred into the prepared uterus with the hopes of a pregnancy.

In the event the two women cannot be synchronized, the embryos may be cryopreserved for a frozen embryo transfer during a later cycle. 

This process can also be used for a woman who has been gender reassigned as a man, but retained their ovaries.  The eggs from the reassigned person can be retrieved, fertilized and transferred into the female partner.