Partner Assisted Reproduction (ROPA): Female couples on a journey to motherhood (Part 1)

foto ROPA blog

Becoming a mum is for many women anything but easy: broken hopes and dreams, endless waiting… All these difficulties ultimately turn into emotional stress for women and her partners and worsens in cases of female couples due to social clichés and taboos in regards to motherhood in female couples. Furthermore, in most European countries same sex couples do not benefit from the same rights which tend to be more restrictive and less integrative.

Fortunately Spain’s own legal framework protects women’s reproductive rights regardless from their sexual orientation. Spanish Law on assisted reproduction establishes and safeguards the right of women to freely form a family, and since 2006 it envisages the possibility of accessing assisted reproduction techniques, independently of their civil status and sexual condition.

In this sense same sex female couples have several treatments at their disposal:

  • In vitro fertilisation (IVF) with donor sperm.
  • Artificial insemination with donor sperm.
  • Egg and sperm donation.
  • Embryo donation.
  • Partner assisted reproduction (ROPA method).

Among all these treatments the partner assisted reproduction, also known as “shared motherhood”, is the most suitable for lesbian couples. In this technique both women take part in the treatment – one provides the eggs and the other will give birth to the baby.

This treatment was conceived so that both women could take part in such an significant process and make them feel important. But, what what exactly does this method consist in? The ROPA method is a regular in vitro fertilisation. It is very similar to the standard egg donation, with the only difference being that the “egg donor” is not anonymous, but one of the future mothers.

Which role each woman will have through the course of the treatment is up to the couple.

From a medical point of view however, it would be best for the younger woman to provide the eggs as their quality will be higher and have less chances to suffer from chromosomal alterations – a risk that increases at the of 35. It is also very important to have a good ovarian reserve which will ensure obtaining embryos with the highest quality possible and ultimately increase the chances to achieve a successful pregnancy.