Reciprocal IVF

What is reciprocal IVF?

Reciprocal IVF, also known as partner IVF, is a form of assisted reproduction popular amongst female same-sex couples as it allows both women to take part in the reproductive process of their baby. It involves one of the women donating her eggs to the other woman who will go on to carry the pregnancy. The donated egg is fertilised by donor sperm.

A same sex female couple embraces. Lesbian couples may be interested in having reciprocal IVF when choosing to have children.

Why is reciprocal IVF done?

This type of assisted reproduction allows both women to participate actively in the pregnancy and creation of their baby, as one will be the biological mother (the woman who donates her eggs), whilst the other woman will carry the baby throughout pregnancy.

What does reciprocal IVF consist of?

Before the woman who is donating her eggs, she must take fertility medication to assist in the maturation of her eggs and to increase the number that can be collected in the egg retrieval procedure. Once these eggs are collected, they are then inseminated by IVF with donated sperm in the laboratory setting to create embryos ready for implantation in the other woman.

In the lead up to the embryo implantation procedure, the woman who will become pregnant will undergo certain tests and preparations to ensure that her uterus is ready for the embryo. The highest quality embryos are selected and implanted into the woman’s uterus.

Preparation for reciprocal IVF

Before egg donation and implantation, it is important to carry out a study on both women to observe the results on which of the two is more fertile for the technique to be successful. Studies show that the younger woman supplying the eggs can have better outcomes, as fertility gradually decreases over time.


After the embryos are implanted, the woman will need to rest for the rest of the day. Generally, a pregnancy test can be taken two weeks later.

Alternatives to reciprocal IVF

There are other methods of assisted reproduction, although they do not have the same characteristics of involving both women, as reciprocal IVF does:

  • Standard IVF with donor sperm
  • ICSI and IVF
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