What happens during reciprocal IVF?

What happens during reciprocal IVF?

As the field of reproductive medicine and fertility options continue to advance, having a child is becoming increasingly attainable. There are now more options than ever before for those looking to start a family.

One option that is gaining popularity among same-sex female couples is reciprocal in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is also known as co-IVF, co-maternity, or reception of oocytes from partners (ROPA).

In co-IVF, one partner donates the eggs while the other carries the pregnancy. This is a desirable option for many couples since it enables both individuals to be actively involved in the pregnancy. (1)

What is reciprocal IVF?

Reciprocal in vitro fertilization (IVF), also known as co-IVF, is a fertility treatment option for same-sex female couples who both want to participate in the process of carrying and giving birth to a child. In this process, one partner provides the eggs and undergoes ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval, while the other partner carries the pregnancy through embryo transfer.

Reciprocal IVF allows both partners to play an active role in the conception and pregnancy of their child, and can be a desirable option for same-sex couples who want to share the experience of parenthood. It is also an option for couples in which one partner has a medical condition that makes carrying a pregnancy risky. (2)

How does reciprocal IVF work?

Reciprocal IVF, also known as co-IVF, co-maternity or ROPA, is a popular option for same-sex female partners who want to be equally involved in the pregnancy process. The procedure begins with one partner undergoing ovarian stimulation to produce multiple eggs, which are retrieved and fertilized with donor sperm in a laboratory to create embryos. The resulting embryos are then assessed for quality, and the healthiest embryo is transferred to the uterus of the other partner, who will carry the pregnancy to term. This allows both partners to play an active role in the pregnancy process, with one partner providing the genetic material and the other carrying the pregnancy. With advances in reproductive medicine and fertility options, reciprocal IVF has become an increasingly accessible and successful route for same-sex female couples who want to start a family. (3)

What should we pay attention to when starting Co-IVF?

The same factors that are important in standard IVF are also important in co-IVF. It is essential to have a thorough discussion with your doctor to gain a complete understanding of the process and its success rates. Depending on the state you reside in, some clinics may recommend seeking advice from an attorney specializing in family law, who may advise a second parent adoption for the partner who is not carrying the pregnancy. 

You should also inquire about insurance coverage for your treatment and consult with your insurance provider before beginning to avoid any unexpected out-of-pocket expenses. It is common for couples to use co-IVF for a second child, with the roles of the original donor and carrier reversed, allowing both partners to experience pregnancy and a genetic connection to a child. (4)

What are the legalities of reciprocal IVF?

It is essential to understand the legal implications of using a sperm donor and reciprocal IVF. Your doctor assists you in comprehending the legalities and addressing any concerns you may have. 

If you and your partner are married, you will both be the legal parents of the child. However, if you are unmarried, you will need to consent to legal parenthood before starting the treatment.  (5)




Roth, A. (2017). (Queer) Family Values and” Reciprocal IVF”: What Difference Does Sexual Identity Make?Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal27(3), 443-473.

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