By Leslie Schreiber

For most heterosexual couples using IVF, unless they are using a surrogate, there is usually no question about who will be responsible for carrying the child to term. But what about same-sex female couples? What if both partners want to participate in the child’s conception?

Reciprocal IVF provides same-sex partners the opportunity to share this responsibility. Through reciprocal IVF, an increasingly popular option for lesbian couples, one partner provides the eggs for the IVF treatment while the other serves as the gestational carrier. It has been suggested that this arrangement creates a stronger bond between the partners and the child, as well as between the partners.

Assuming that neither of the partners has fertility issues, the egg donor follows the routine IVF procedures for egg production. Once the embryos are created, the gestational carrier will have them implanted. If implantation is successful, then she can carry the child to term. Moreover, the partners have the ability to switch roles if they want additional children.

Legal issues do arise concerning IVF, and those laws differ from state to state. It is recommended to consult with a reproductive attorney before commencing treatment, so you can avoid potential conflicts beforehand. In a reciprocal IVF scenario, for example, “the gestational carrier’s custody rights may be difficult to support if they were designated gestational carriers and not partners on their IVF consent forms.”


[1] “Reciprocal IVF: What Lesbian Couples Need to Know,” available at (last visited Jan. 18, 2018).

[1] Id.

[1] Baek, K., M.D., “Lesbian Family Building,” Path to Parenthood: 2018 Family Building Guide and Professional Directory, at p. 28 (2018), available at”{“.