Where there is love, there is often the desire to deepen the relationship and create a family. It is a natural course of events. For same-sex couples creating a family may be a bit more difficult though not impossible. Thanks to modern science, same-sex couples can now have children who partially carry their genes.
It may also happen that in same-sex couples one or both partners suffer from infertility or secondary infertility. Infertility does not discriminate. In case of female couples, there are a number of solutions available. Female patients can undergo:
- IVF with own eggs
- reciprocal IVF or
- IVF with donor eggs
Reciprocal IVF, often called partner IVF is an infertility solution which allows both partners to be involved in the conception and pregnancy process. Many female couples are attracted to reciprocal IVF because they both can feel they are part of the process of creating a new life. It is indeed a very intimate and important moment in any relationship. In this type of IVF one partner supplies the eggs (has hormonal stimulation and egg retrieval) and the other is the gestational carrier of the pregnancy. Usually, reciprocal IVF is done as fresh egg cycle so the hormonal cycles of both partners are synchronized – both partners are ready for treatment at the same time. This can also create an additional intimate bond for partners as they feel they are going through the conception process together. The retrieved eggs are fertilized in the IVF lab using donor sperm and then the embryo is transferred to the other partner’s uterus. You should know that the partner who is the egg “donor” here will have to be thoroughly tested and examined for diseases and genetic abnormalities – this is required by law.
Reciprocal IVF is a great solution because if the couple is planning to have a second child, they can reverse the roles when doing the second IVF. This way each woman has the chance to have a biological link to the baby, experience the ups and downs of pregnancy and give birth to the baby.
If one partner has fertility issues that cannot be resolved, the other partner can undergo IVF with her own eggs and donor sperm. If this is not possible, there is also an option of IVF with donor eggs and sperm. In this case none of the partners will have a genetic link to the baby, but, still, one of them gets to be the gestational carrier. Egg donation treatment is more complicated and cost of donor eggs varies per clinic and per country. However, you need to remember that it is a highly successful treatment (compared to own eggs for patients over 30). There are many sperm and egg bank options in the UK and Europe – you and your partner are bound to find a suitable healthy donor for yourselves.
Some women even choose to become pregnant at the same time, either with their own eggs and same donor sperm or partner’s egg and same donor sperm. If there are no medical or other contraindications, this is also a solution practised by some female couples.
There is also IUI procedure (intrauterine insemination) for women who are fertile and wish to have a baby using their own oocytes.
As you can see there are many ways of expanding a family for female couples and for those women in same-sex relationships who have fertility issues. IVF is certainly more expensive and time-consuming than natural conception (which basically is just free and very pleasant). However, no matter how your baby is conceived, in the end, the only thing that matters is the love and care they will receive from loving parents. Long after the IVF treatment and after successful childbirth, you will be able to sit down with coffee, cake and tell your kids how their two mums tried hard to finally meet them. Isn’t it wonderful?
*Article in collaboration with EggDonationFriends