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Options for lesbian couples to get pregnant in Spain

by CRA
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Options for lesbian couples to get pregnant in Spain


There are several techniques in Assisted Reproduction which not only make the dream of lesbian couples becoming parents possible but also allow both women to become physically involved in the conception and actively share the maternity process.

One of such methods is the ROPA or reciprocal IVF, during which one woman contributes with her oocytes and the other woman contributes with her uterus to achieve a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby at home

What the spanish law says

Known as shared biological motherhood , ROPA stands for Reception of Oocytes from the Partner and it is a variant of in vitro fertilisation treatment.

One of the women will be the genetic mother who provides the eggs and the other one will be the biological mother who carries the pregnancy.

According to the Spanish law, a women should be able to use the reproductive techniques regardless of her sexual orientation. It is one of the most modern, secure and open law in Europe, which not only deals with fertility, it also recognises a woman’s right to motherhood.

Even though, to start a ROPA procedure, the lesbian couple must be legally engaged, since egg and sperm donation in Spain is anonymous, and only permits donation inside couples if there is a proof of legal engagement.

Before starting the ROPA, you will be asked to sign a medical consent, this document will be the proof that the baby has two legal mothers, and, if needed, you will be able to use it in court back at your country.

ROPA: medical requirements

Apart from the legal status of the relationship, another requirement is the positive medical analysis of the couple. Doctors need to know the ovarian reserve, the quality of the eggs and the state of the uterus of both of the women to advise which one of them would be the best donor and which one is the best recipient. If you both are over 35 years, we usually recommend the younger woman to be the donor. Both women of you will need to perform a blood test in order to be sure that you don’t have any infectious diseases, as well as a karyotype test.

Changing plans if needed

The reasons for deciding on ROPA technique may be different and they do differ from couple to couple. Of course, the main motivation is the possibility for both of you to become active participants in the reproduction process. However, there are also some medical reasons, such as alterations in oocyte quality one of the women suffers from, absence of own oocytes or severe disfunction of own ovarian reserve. Other cases may include a risk of hereditary transmission of any disease, chromosomal or genetic abnormalities and – last but not least – failure of previous fertility treatments.

What ROPA involves

During the ROPA method, one woman undergoes an ovarian stimulation and the other one receives the embryo and carries the pregnancy. Apart from the women involved in the process, there is also a sperm donor needed, which in Spain it is compulsory to be anonymous, and you will never get to know him.

Your sperm donor is selected on the basis of the physical characteristics to ensure maximum similarity with the recipient. The sperm donors should have a normal karyotype and a negative serology. Besides this legal requirements, at CRA Barcelona we perform on each donor a genetic disease carrier Test, to rule out around 300 diseases, such as cystic fibrosis.

In order for the ROPA technique the woman who provides her eggs undergoes an ovarian stimulation in order to produce follicles in an attempt to obtain an optimal number of oocytes. Such a stimulation involves hormonal injections and takes about 10-12 days. Once the follicles have achieved an adequate size (16-18 millimeters), the egg collection is performed.

The hormonal treatment is also needed to prepare the endometrium of the recipient woman.

After the ovarian puncture, we perform an in vitro insemination or IVF. The insemination of the ovules is performed with some 100.000 mobile spermatozoa for each one. The ovules and the sperm are kept together in the incubator until the following day, when it is determined if fertilisation has occurred.

The embryos obtained are placed in incubators that maintain the conditions necessary for their development. In our center we have state-of-the-art incubator technology, which allows not only optimal conditions at all times for each and every one of the embryos, but also continual control of the development of these embryos, improving the selection of those with the best chances of producing a healthy child.

At this point, the recipient woman starts with progesterone to complete the endometrium preparation. We might also consider to an asyncronic transfer and freeze the embryos, so we can wait until the endometrium in its best condition.

The embryo transfer day depends on the number of embryos and their development. At CRA Barcelona, we have the best laboratory with time-lapse incubators, such as Embryoscope and Geri Plus,  and we prefer to achieve the blastocyst stage and transfer on day 5, the be completely sure that embryo will be the best one.

Probability of pregnancy in ROPA

The probability of pregnancy depends mainly on the egg donor’s age. It is generally known that a woman starts to loose her reproductive capacity in a natural and an irreversible process that tends to intensify from the age of 35 . So if the donor is less than 35 years old, after the first attempt the probability of a pregnancy is about 85% after all the attempts of the same cycle. In comparison, in case of a 40-year old woman, the success rate after is of 25%.

CRA Barcelona leaders in  ROPA Method

From 2004, CRA Barcelona has helped hundreds lesbian couples to build their families, fist through inseminations, and from 2007 using the Reciprocal IVF or ROPA Method.

We are more than just a lesbian friendly fertility clinic, we strongly believe in diversity and equal opportunities. Our CEO, Dr. Julio Herrero, who is also in charge of the Assisted Reproduction Area at the public Spanish hospital Vall d’Hebron,  promoted the change in Catalan public protocols so that couples of women and single women were included in public fertility services.

¿Do you have doubts our questions about ROPA? ¿Do you need personalised advice? Please, contact us, we will be very glad to help you achive your dream.

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