As infertility treatments become more advanced and inclusive, partners of lesbians and trans-men who may have felt marginalized when conceiving a child through traditional artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF) now have another option. A process called reciprocal IVF — also known as co-maternity — allows both partners in a lesbian or trans-man couple to conceive and carry a single baby.
At OC Fertility in Newport Beach, California, caring OB/GYNs and fertility experts Dr. Sharon Moayeri and Dr. Nidhee Sachdev offer reciprocal IVF to couples who qualify. If you think reciprocal may be the answer starting the family of your dreams, read on.
The simplest way to describe reciprocal IVF is that the baby is conceived with the eggs from one partner’s ovaries, and then carried in the other partner’s uterus. Our doctors retrieve the eggs from one partner and then fertilize them with washed sperm from the sperm donor of your choice. Once the embryos are tested and at least one is viable and healthy, they transfer the embryo or embryos to the other partner’s womb.
Both of you must be at the same place during your menstrual cycle to give the embryo the best chance of implanting in the uterine lining. Each of you needs to take fertility drugs so that your cycles line up to facilitate the transfer.
If you’d like to be considered for reciprocal IVF, we physically examine and take a personal and family medical history for each partner. We make sure that you menstruate regularly and that the partner who wants to donate their eggs is producing and releasing eggs regularly. You also take tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other conditions that could affect the IVF process.
As long as both of you are healthy and under age 35, either one of you could be the donor or the carrier. When we suspect that you or your partner has a physical or hormonal problem that could negatively affect egg production or implantation, we make recommendations for treatment.
We may also make recommendations about who donates the eggs and who carries the baby to term. For instance, if only one of you is younger than 35, then they’re the best candidate to donate the eggs.
If you choose a sperm donor that you know personally, rather than going through a donor clinic, we make sure that he’s healthy, too, and that his sperm is normal. We may also advise you to add more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, quit smoking, and avoid or limit alcohol. The partner who’s carrying the child needs to take a folic acid supplement before and during gestation.
To ensure the best possibility of creating a viable embryo, we administer drugs that stimulate the ovaries of the donor so that they produce multiple eggs during a single cycle. These eggs don’t deplete your natural stores; the drugs stimulate the development and release eggs that would normally not mature.
One day after our doctors fertilize your eggs with your donor’s sperm, they examine them to see if they’ve become embryos. If so, you can freeze the embryos for future use, go ahead with implantation, or implant one or more embryos while freezing the others.
Before implantation, we can conduct genetic screenings and tests if you wish. Be sure to let your doctor know if you’d like your embryos screened or tested before implantation.
In California, IVF treatments aren’t covered by health insurance, and that goes for reciprocal IVF, too. Reciprocal IVF can be costly, especially because you may need to go through more than one cycle to produce a child.
You should also check with your lawyer before beginning the process to see if the egg donor needs to legally adopt the child after birth.
To find out if you and your partner are candidates for reciprocal IVF, call us at 949-706-2229 or book an appointment on our website today.