Shared motherhood: Lesbian Reciprocal IVF technique

For women who are in a relationship with another woman there are also various ways of experiencing motherhood as a couple and, although the law varies greatly from country to country, assisted reproduction is one of the safest and most common options for the lesbian community. The most widespread techniques are Artificial Insemination with donor sperm (AID / IUI) and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) with donor sperm, which are also carried out on a daily basis at Instituto Marqués, not only for lesbian couples but also for single women and heterosexual couples, in addition to IVF with Egg Donation and Sperm Donation and Embryo Adoption, which are also indicated treatments for both groups.

A different option, which is less well-known due to its novelty and the fact that it is only performed and legal in a handful of countries, is the lesbian Reciprocal IVF technique, also known as Shared Motherhood, Inter-spousal Egg Donation or Reciprocal IVF.

The lesbian Reciprocal IVF method has become increasingly popular among lesbian couples as elective IVF. As its name describes, the main particularity of this IVF method is that the treatment is shared by both women: one of the women undergoes the ovarian stimulation and will provide the eggs; these are retrieved by means of an ovarian punction and fertilised in vitro with donor sperm from the sperm bank, exactly the same as in regular IVF, with the only difference that the embryos will be transferred to the partner’s uterus, who will carry the pregnancy and give birth to the child. This way both women participate actively in bringing their child to the world being its ‘biological’ mothers: the first one as the genetic mother and the second one as the gestational mother.

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At Institut Marquès we have our own premium sperm and oocyte bank with all phenotypes, and it is always the doctor in charge of each case who chooses the best donor for each patient taking into account their physical and psychological characteristics. The assignment is made by the gynaecologist, who has access to photos of the donor, his history of studies and hobbies and his fertility from previous donations.

We have more than 2,000 egg and sperm donors, which speeds up the process and avoids waiting lists. Gamete donation in Spain is anonymous, in the case of preferring known or non-anonymous donors the treatment must be carried out in Ireland where we collaborate with the best clinics.

In Spain, homosexual couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples, and marriage and adoption are permitted since 2005 for all people regardless of sex or sexual orientation. On the other hand, donorship is anonymous in Spain by law. Therefore, the Spanish Assisted Reproduction Law 14/2006 was amended to specifically recognize both women are parents to a child conceived through assisted reproduction techniques in Spain, whether they have carried out the treatment due to medical reasons or because it was simply their wish, and this makes non-anonymous egg donation a legal exception when it takes place between lesbian partners.

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