Building an LGBTQ+ Family With Reciprocal IVF: Two Moms, One Miracle

Building an LGBTQ+ Family With Reciprocal IVF: Two Moms, One Miracle

IVF Has Gone Beyond The Conventional

The struggle with infertility, or the inability to get pregnant naturally, has impacted millions of couples for decades. Science and medicine stepped in to address this issue. The result is in vitro fertilization (IVF), a technique that creates mature embryos outside of the body. The embryos are then transferred to the woman’s uterus for pregnancy. To date, millions of babies have been born via these reproductive technologies. Now, IVF has gone beyond conventional use as a form of infertility treatment. This innovative process can help other groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to reciprocal IVF, the miracle of pregnancy is now available to same-sex couples.


The power of reciprocity

Reciprocal IVF is a process specially designed for same-sex couples, such as lesbian or transgender male couples who wish to have a child together. Also called shared motherhood, this form of IVF allows both parties to be deeply involved in the pregnancy journey. The goal of IVF is to extract viable eggs, which are then combined with a sperm sample to create embryos. The best available embryo is then transferred to the woman’s uterus for pregnancy. With reciprocal IVF, one partner contributes the viable eggs for IVF. The other partner receives the embryo via implantation and carries the potential child to term. This is a fantastic, innovative option that allows both partners to enjoy the miracle of parenthood.

A shared experience with IVF

Thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART), the LGBTQ+ community can experience family planning through strategies like reciprocal IVF. The couple will discuss who will perform the necessary roles in the process. One woman or partner assigned female at birth will be the egg provider. This individual is called the genetic mother. The fertility team will extract the required eggs using a minor surgical procedure. The other individual will receive the embryo as the gestational mother. The fertility team will help this person prepare for the transfer of the healthy embryo and to carry the baby to term. A consultation with the fertility team will help the couple decide based on factors like health, age, and comfort level.

Extraction and fertilization

Once reciprocal IVF is confirmed, the team can begin extracting and fertilizing the embryos. The couple must first decide on the sperm donation necessary for fertilization. The sample may come from a sperm bank or a donor selected by the couple. The process continues with the egg provider starting fertility medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce more mature eggs. The genetic mother will administer gonadotropins via injection, then add a trigger shot, which releases the eggs. Through a surgical procedure, the fertility team collects multiple eggs. The eggs are then combined with the provided sperm sample to produce embryos.

Implantation and pregnancy

The embryos are created, often using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), an innovative step in IVF. The successful embryos mature over several days and are assessed for quality. During this time, the gestational mother will prepare to receive the embryo through hormone preparation. Fertility medication will thicken and prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy. Using a single embryo transfer or multiple embryo transfer, the fertility team surgically transfers each embryo into the gestational mother’s uterus. The carrier should have a normal pregnancy once pregnancy is confirmed, usually up to 14 days after transfer. Barring miscarriages or complications, reciprocal IVF should lead to a normal childbirth.

Building an LGBTQ+ family

Reciprocal IVF is an excellent way for same-sex or transgender couples to have a child with a genetic link. However, there are challenges. The couple is also exposed to complications, such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and failed IVF cycles. There are also challenges with family, interpersonal relationships, and emotional stress. Finding the right support group is vital to reducing stress and managing the IVF process. More importantly, the goal is to find a fertility clinic that understands the needs of the LGBTQ+ community and has extensive experience with reciprocal IVF.

With two moms, one miracle is possible

Reciprocal IVF is a fantastic way for LGBTQ+ couples to start or grow a family. Sometimes, the couple can switch the egg provider and carrier roles for future children. The process leverages the benefits of IVF to help couples from all walks of life be fantastic parents. The couple can enjoy the unique benefits of shared parenthood, with both maintaining a strong emotional connection to the child. While reciprocal IVF is not available to everyone, the hope is that the option will soon be standard for couples and clinics across the country.

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