Blog
What is reciprocal IVF?
Fertility Specialist
2021-07-12

What is reciprocal IVF?

If both you and your partner are biologically female, there may be an option for fertility treatment in the UK that you have not yet considered: reciprocal IVF. But what is reciprocal IVF? What will it cost, on average? What are the success rates like? 

Below, we have answered these questions and have provided a short, professional guide on what you may expect from reciprocal IVF treatment with our fertility clinic, alongside the care and understanding you need at a time that may be difficult.

What is Reciprocal IVF?

Reciprocal IVF, which is also known by some as “shared motherhood”, is a type of fertility treatment used to help create families for couples who both have female reproductive organs (i.e. a same-sex couple), and are therefore unable to conceive. During this treatment process the eggs will be collected from one partner, fertilised in our laboratory using donor sperm, and then one or two of the resulting embryos will be transferred into the womb of the other partner. 

The result of this procedure is that both partners will be able to experience aspects of parenthood, the first partner through their genetic relation to the child, and the second through the bonding that takes place during pregnancy. 

Our Process for Reciprocal IVF in the UK

Our procedure for reciprocal IVF here at GENNET City Fertility will begin with you and your partner coming for an initial consultation at our private clinic in London. At this stage, we will discuss your full medical history and talk you through the details of the procedure itself. This includes information on the stimulation process, egg collection, and any possible complications that may come from the procedure taking place (though these are most often minimal and unlikely). 

During the first consultation, we will also explain the ovarian reserve of the partner who is to undergo stimulation in more depth. 

Following this, we will book an appointment with you to complete all the forms required by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA). This organisation also strongly recommends having implication counselling when preparing to go through this procedure. This is a type of counselling for those going through assisted conception treatments involving the use of donor sperm, eggs, or embryos and allows a patient the chance to reflect upon and understand the proposed course of treatment.

So that you’ll know and understand what to expect from each stage of the IVF treatment before the specialist takes you through the individual steps in more depth, we have provided a list of them for you to consider in your own time:

  • Ovarian stimulation, meaning the patient will be given a series of hormone injections to stimulate their ovaries and monitored over a course of 9 to 14 days
  • The “trigger injection”, which will be given 35 to 36 hours before egg collection is carried out
  • The egg collection, which will be done under conscious sedation (local anaesthetic) and performed by a transvaginal ultrasound-guided procedure
  • Mixing the eggs with your chosen donor’s sperm, which will take place in our laboratory, and watching for signs of fertilisation
  • Selecting viable embryos for transfer into you or your partner’s womb
  • The embryo transfer procedure, which should take place a few days after the eggs have been collected
  • The pregnancy test, which will happen about 14 days after the procedure and should inform whether or not it has been successful

Your Remaining Embryos

More often than not, several embryos will be created as part of a patient’s fertility treatment, but not all of these will be needed at once. Any good quality embryos that are not used right away in your treatment can therefore be cryopreserved (frozen) for use in the future. Placing two embryos or more in your partner’s womb would increase your chances of having twins or triplets.

You will always have the option to use your frozen embryos at a later date, in the event of your first cycle being unsuccessful, or if you should choose to give your child (or children) a sibling and would like to try for another baby in the future.

Reciprocal IVF Success Rates

The reported success rates of reciprocal IVF are said to be very promising, according to a 2018 study carried out on 121 lesbian couples. This study is the first of its kind to be published, and notes that the treatments were mainly performed as fresh embryo transfers, following 141 cycles of IVF and 172 embryo transfers. The live birth rate per receiver was noted to be 60% (73 couples of the 121 chosen), with the twin delivery rate recorded as 14%. 

The oldest patient to carry the pregnancy to term and have a live birth was 40 years old, though this does not mean that patients at our fertility clinic cannot give birth after this age. We are proud to say that our clinic has seen a large number of cases that have resulted in pregnancy and the birth of healthy children, and we will do everything possible to ensure success for your growing family as well.

How Much Does Reciprocal IVF Cost in the UK?

The average cost of reciprocal IVF in this country is similar to that of a standard IVF treatment, meaning it should be priced somewhere between £1,500 and £5,000. However, this will vary depending on the clinic or hospital you choose for your treatment. 

Your chosen clinic’s prices for treatment may also depend on the fertility medications used for the stimulation cycle, which is often dependent on the age of the patient and their ovarian reserve. There may also be additional testing involved, in which case we would recommend having some extra money set aside in your budget in case the price runs over the noted average cost of the reciprocal IVF procedure.

For More Information or to Book a Consultation

If you and your partner are ready to take the next step on your journey to parenthood, please contact us right away. We’ll be glad to talk you through the process and book you for a free consultation with a specialist at our clinic in London, UK.

Together, we may just help you find the effective treatment you and your partner need to take that first joined step on the journey to parenthood