Reciprocal IVF – for Lesbian Couples and Transgender Men

Reproductive Medicine & Surgery Center of Virginia offers reciprocal IVF for lesbian couples and transgender men.

RMSCVA is proud and excited to offer reciprocal IVF for lesbian couples and transgender men. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about reciprocal IVF and other fertility treatment-based family building options for the LGBTQ+ community.

Reciprocal IVF is an increasingly popular option for lesbian couples. Rather than one person contributing her egg and carrying the baby while the other witnesses the process, reciprocal IVF allows each woman/partner to play an integral, biologic role in the baby’s conception, development and birth. This option is also a potential fertility solution for transgender men who have viable eggs and/or a viable uterus.

What is Reciprocal IVF?

With reciprocal IVF, couples determine which of the partners will contribute the eggs and which one will carry the baby. Once that is decided, they select donor sperm from a reputable sperm bank. From there, the process moves forward in the same way as a traditional IVF cycle.

Step One: Ovarian Stimulation & Egg Retrieval

The partner contributing the eggs will use prescription fertility medications that stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs than normal in a single cycle. This process is carefully monitored by our office. Once the eggs are matured, an injection is given with a “trigger shot” of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) that triggers the eggs to release from the follicles. Roughly 35-hours later, the patient comes in for the egg retrieval process which takes place in our office under sedation.

Step Two: Fertilization

As soon as the eggs are retrieved, they are taken to the embryology lab and mixed (or injected via Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI) with the donor sperm. After five days, we are able to transfer resulting embryo(s) into the other partner, the gestational carrier. Some couples opt to use preimplantation genetic testing to screen embryos for chromosomal/genetic abnormalities, ensuring only the healthiest embryos are transferred.

When it comes to the embryos you use, you have two options; the first involves using fresh embryos, requiring the synchronization of both of your cycles so the fertilized embryos are transferred to the partner, who is the gestational carrier, on day 5 after ovulation. This mimics Mother Nature’s rhythm for a primed uterine lining and optimal implantation.

The second option is to freeze and store the embryos so they can be thawed and transferred in the future. This gives the gestational carrier more freedom as to when the pregnancy takes place. Freezing and storing the embryos is necessary if you elect to do preimplantation genetic testing of the embryos.

Step Three: Embryo Transfer Day

On Day 5, we transfer the embryo into the uterus of the partner acting as the gestational carrier. As with the egg retrieval, this takes place in our center but is painless and no anesthesia is required. Once the transfer is complete, you both get to experience what is referred to as the Two Week Wait (TWW), after which you’ll find out if you’re pregnant.

The embryo transfer process can be repeated again for future pregnancies (if desired) or some partners opt to start fresh, changing places the next time around so they can both experience the process of pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding. We’ve even had couples where both partners decided to use reciprocal IVF simultaneously to carry their babies at the same time.

Fertility Testing Optimizes Your Chance of Reciprocal IVF Success

We highly recommend both partners participate in fertility testing before making the final decision on who will contribute the eggs and who will be the gestational carrier. There is always a chance that one (or both) of you have latent infertility factors that aren’t able to be treated or that make it more complicated and less likely to conceive via IVF.

If this is the case for you, it’s better to find out ahead of time so you and your fertility specialist can make an informed decision about which roles make the most sense to optimize your reciprocal IVF success rates.

How Much Does Reciprocal IVF Cost?

Because there are donor sperm fees, as well as associated legal fees, reciprocal IVF is more expensive than a standard cycle of IVF.

On average, the total cost of reciprocal IVF for a married couple, including medications, is about $15,000 per cycle (excluding legal fees).  This rate is variable based on any additional services or treatments required, such as whether you add preimplantation genetic testing. Also, unmarried couples participating in reciprocal IVF will need to seek legal counsel to ensure that you have equal parenting rights and that you establish your legal rights for the resulting embryos.  We recommend Colleen Quinn, JD, in Richmond at www.reproductionattorney.com

The good news is that more and more insurance carriers are covering a portion of the costs for fertility treatments. Additionally, there are a range of IVF financing options that break up the total costs of reciprocal IVF into affordable, monthly payments.

Interested in learning more about reciprocal IVF as an option for your family? Schedule a consultation with the Reproductive Medical and Surgery Center of Virginia.

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