Shared Motherhood or Reciprocal IVF

Shared Motherhood, also referred to as Reciprocal IVF is a wonderful option for single sex female couples where both partners take part in the IVF journey to becoming a family as a shared experience right from conception.

The process involves one partner going through the IVF process to produce eggs, which are then fertilised with a donor’s sperm. The embryo is then implanted into the womb of the other female partner who carries the child to full term and gives birth. The outcome of the treatment is that one woman is the biological mother of the child whilst the other is the birth mother.

What is the process?

The mother who will be the genetic mother undergoes the first stages of the IVF cycle with the fertility medication to stimulate her ovaries and the follicular tracking scans followed by the egg collection procedure. When the mature eggs are collected, they are inseminated with donor sperm. The mother who will carry the pregnancy is prepared for the embryo transfer and has the embryo transfer procedure.

What are the benefits?

Shared Motherhood allows both partners to experience motherhood and allows both women to feel equally related and build a bond with the child and many couples go on to have a second child but reversing the roles. It also becomes an attractive option if one of the women is older and where their eggs may be of lower quality, they have the option to carry the child using their younger partner’s fertilised egg to ensure the chances of a healthy live birth are higher.

What makes it different to other treatments?

Previously, if a same sex female couple had a baby through donor sperm and IVF, the other woman had to adopt the child to become its rightful parent which up until very recently, was a difficult and time-consuming process with a lot of red tape. However, through shared motherhood, both women are equal as parents in the eyes of the law thereby limiting potential legal complications.


If you are interested in learning more about shared motherhood and options open to you, we would love to hear from you.