Road to fertility

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How Two Females Can Have a Baby Through Reciprocal IVF

how do lesbian couples get pregnant

Same-sex couples now have several options they can explore when they want to add to their family. In this blog, we will review how two females can have a baby. We will primarily focus on what is known as Reciprocal IVF or “partner IVF”. It’s become an increasingly popular option as it allows both partners to play a large role in their child’s conception.

How Two Females Can Have a Baby through In Vitro Fertilization

When considering your best path to pregnancy, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one option to consider in how two females can have a baby. Success rates with IVF tend to be higher than IUI success rates. Depending on your age or other factors such as if you have any fertility related diagnosis like Diminished Ovarian Reserve or Premature Ovarian Failure, IVF may be recommended by your doctor.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is the process of retrieving eggs and combining with a sperm sample to create embryos. Any embryo(s) that develop are then transferred to the uterus of the woman planning to carry the baby.

In addition to higher success rates, you can also utilize Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy (PGT-A), previously known as PGS or Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Monogenic Diseases (PGT-M), formerly known as PGD in combination with an IVF cycle. These tests cannot be done in combination with an IUI cycle. With PGT-A embryos are tested to determine the number of chromosomes and embryos with a normal number of chromosomes are transferred. Embryos that are chromosomally normal, with 46 chromosomes have a higher chance of implanting and a lower chance of miscarrying compared to untested embryos.  With PGT-M embryos can be tested to see if they contain a certain genetic mutation that may run in the family. 

How Two Females Can Have a Baby through Reciprocal (or Partner) In Vitro Fertilization

Now that you understand how two females can have a baby through IVF, let’s review what Reciprocal IVF is. When undergoing Reciprocal IVF, one partner provides the eggs, while the other carries and delivers the baby. Some couples prefer this (as opposed to typical IVF) because they feel it’s a more shared experience since both partners are physically and actively involved.  How it works is one of the partners goes through the first half of the IVF process, which entails taking hormone injections (approximately 10 – 14 days) to produce eggs. Then, her eggs are retrieved and fertilized with sperm (from a donor or a known contributor). The embryo would then be transferred to the other partner’s uterus in the hopes that it would implant in her uterine lining. If it did, this would mean a pregnancy is achieved.

How Two Females Can Have a Baby that is NOT IVF Related:

Whether it’s a concern about taking hormone medications, physical limitations, neither of you feel comfortable or able to carry a child, financial concerns, etc., there are other options in how two females can have a baby that is not related to In Vitro Fertilization process. They are:

  • Adoption: Adoption is one option of how two females can have a baby who don’t feel as strongly about being genetically tied to the child or they do not wish or are not able to carry a child. Same-sex female couples can apply to adopt through a local authority or adoption agency. There are typically three forms of adoption: domestic, international or foster care. You and your partner should do some research on your own to see which you feel would work best for you as a couple.
  • Surrogacy: Surrogacy is another option of how two females can have a baby. With surrogacy you would work with an IVF center to arrange to have a gestational carrier who is not genetically related to the child agree to carry a pregnancy for a couple or individual. This is typically supported by a legal contract agreement. The lesbian couple could either use an embryo created using one of their eggs through IVF or an embryo through donation.
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) with Donor Sperm: Intrauterine insemination with donor sperm is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and is how two females can have a baby when one of them feels comfortable and is able to be pregnant. Sperm either from a known friend or partner or from a donor could be used for IUIs. A reproductive endocrinologist would use a very thin catheter inserted through the cervix of the woman intended to carry the child, and release the sperm directly in the uterus. IUI is less expensive and less invasive than In Vitro Fertilization. However, it typically has lower success rates than In Vitro Fertilization and can often lead to needing more than one cycle before being successful. In addition, if you were interested in performing genetic testing on the embryo, this would not be possible with IUI.

How Two Females Can Have a Baby is Between You and Your Doctor

Now that you have learned the ways you can grow your family tree and take extra steps to try and ensure the healthiest possible pregnancy and child, your next step is to make an appointment with a fertility doctor to talk through which would be the best fit for you and your partner!

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