Reciprocal IVF

Shared Motherhood

Sharing the journey to parenthood

Reciprocal IVF, also known as shared motherhood is an increasingly popular option at Thérapie Fertility. It affords same sex female couples the opportunity to share the physical experience of pregnancy.

The process involves one of the partners providing the eggs to be used in an IVF cycle with donor sperm, while the other partner will carry the pregnancy when the embryos are transferred back into her uterus.
Female same sex couple sitting on floor. One is cradling the other's pregnant belly. Both happy and smiling.

Who is Reciprocal IVF suitable for?

Reciprocal IVF is a unique treatment for same sex female couples – where one will donate eggs and the other will become pregnant. It is also suitable for those with trans partners.

Reciprocal IVF involves five stages

Ovarian Stimulation & Monitoring

Egg Retrieval

Fertilisation, Culture & Freezing

Uterine Preparation

Embryo Transfer

Step 1

Ovarian Stimulation & Monitoring

Under the care of our team, the partner giving the eggs is given fertility medications, mainly in the form of injections to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple follicles. Follicles are the small fluid filled structures within the ovaries, each of which will hopefully contain an egg.

The number and size of the developing follicles is measured by trans-vaginal ultrasound scans. The exact number of follicles which develop varies greatly between patients. One of the purposes of testing is to give you and us an idea in advance of how many follicles and eggs may develop.

The final preparation for egg retrieval involves a hormone injection which mimics the natural trigger for ovulation. Egg retrieval will take place 36 hours after this injection.

Step 2

Egg Retrieval

Egg retrieval is a minor theatre procedure which is carried out in the clinic under sedation.

A trans-vaginal ultrasound probe is used and a needle attached to the probe is carefully passed through the vaginal wall into the ovaries and follicles.

The ovarian fluid within each follicle is aspirated and then examined in the IVF laboratory by the embryologist for the presence of an egg. After identification, the eggs are washed and transferred into a special culture in an incubator.

Step 3

Fertilisation & Culture

While the egg retrieval is happening, your chosen donor sperm sample is prepared for use. In the laboratory, a concentrated preparation of the best motile sperm is extracted from the semen sample. This sperm preparation (containing approximately 150,000 sperm) is added to the dishes containing the eggs, and they are incubated together overnight. 

On the morning after egg retrieval, the eggs are examined to see which have fertilised. Fertilised eggs (zygotes) are cultured in the IVF laboratory until day 5 or 6, the blastocyst stage, at which point they are frozen to await transfer to the other partner.

Step 4

Uterine Preparation

Under the care of our team, the partner having the embryo transfer will be given oral or injectable fertility medications to stimulate her body to thicken the lining of her uterus.

The development of the uterine lining will be measured by trans-vaginal ultrasound scans. Once the desired thickness is reached, the embryo transfer will be scheduled.

Step 5

Frozen Embryo Transfer

The frozen embryo transfer (FET) is a simple theatre procedure that does not usually require anaesthesia.

The embryo(s) are placed back into the uterus by the doctor by way of a small catheter inserted through the cervix. The fluid containing the embryo(s) is pushed through the cervix and into the uterus.

The correct positioning of the embryo(s) is confirmed by abdominal ultrasound, so the partner undergoing the procedure is required to have a full bladder for the procedure.

All inclusive Fertility Treatments for one price

Our complete packages include everything you need with no hidden costs.

*Not included: Donor Sperm

Reciprocal IVF FAQs

Why do we do a Frozen Embryo Transfer?

You may wonder why we choose to do frozen embryo transfers for Reciprocal IVF cycles? The answer is simple. Sometimes it is difficult for us to synchronize the menstrual cycles of both partners, and this puts additional stress on the procedure. If we transfer fresh embryos when the uterine lining is not optimal, we risk losing those embryos. By freezing the embryos before use, we give ourselves the time to reach optimal uterine conditions for the embryo transfer. Additionally, it is best to confirm that there are viable embryos before putting a person on the medications for the Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle.

What is so special about Reciprocal IVF?

Reciprocal IVF is the only treatment whereby a same sex couple can very physically share the process of becoming pregnant. One parent will be the birth parent and the other the genetic parent, giving you both a unique connection to your child.

How can our embryos be used in the future?

The embryos that are created by the process are owned jointly by you as a couple. They can be used by either person for Frozen Embryo Transfer in the future

What is ‘implications counselling’?

Implications counselling is mandatory under Irish law for anyone undergoing treatment using donor gametes. For this reason, we have built the cost of your counselling into our complete package cost. We will refer you to an experienced therapist, who will bill us directly for your session. The reason for implications counselling is to help you to reflect on and understand the proposed form of treatment for you and your partner and any children born as a result of of your treatment.