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Reciprocal IVF

Reciprocal IVF, also referred to as co-maternity or co-IVF, is one of the treatment options for lesbian or trans-men couples. It is unique in that it allows both partners to participate biologically in a pregnancy. 

In reciprocal IVF, one partner undergoes ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval. The eggs are then fertilized with donor sperm to create embryos, one of which can then be transferred to the second partner’s uterus. In this way, one partner contributes the genetic material and the second partner contributes the maternal environment, allowing both partners to have a profound impact on the development of the fetus and child.  

Reciprocal IVF Considerations

Who’s Doing What

One of the first decisions to make in reciprocal IVF is which partner will be undergoing the IVF process, and which partner will be carrying the pregnancy. Sometimes the decision is clear, either for personal or medical reasons. In other circumstances it is not. At UCSF, our physicians and psychologists will help you think through the process and options, so that you can make the decision that is right for you. 

Medical Evaluation

For couples interested in reciprocal IVF, we will schedule appointments for both partners for a full medical and reproductive evaluation. This includes an assessment of each partner’s ovarian reserve, medical history, and a uterine evaluation. We can use this information to help inform treatment decisions, particularly when a couple is uncertain about who will provide the egg and who will carry the pregnancy. 

Sperm Donation

Finding a sperm donor is a complex process. Please see our page on sperm donation or more information. 

Legal Considerations

The laws around parenthood when both partners do not contribute genetic material are complicated and vary by state. We recommend you consult with an attorney who specializes in family or reproductive law before deciding on reciprocal IVF so that you fully understand the implications and requirements for parental rights.