Partner Assisted Reproduction (ROPA): Female couples on a journey to motherhood (Part 2)

View from behind of two girlfriends or a lesbian couple standing in autumn woods leaning on each other with their arms around one another.

As in our previous article, the Partner Assisted Reproduction (ROPA) is the reproductive solution for same sex female couples who wish to form a family, but what exactly does it consist in and which phases does it consist of?  In this article you will learn the entire process involving this procedure.

PHASES:

  • Stimulating egg cell production: The female partner providing the eggs will undergo a hormone stimulation to achieve as many mature egg cells as possible. The medication used for this purpose is usually administered subcutaneously in the abdominal area. During the hormone treatment, 7 – 12 days approx., the couple undergoing stimulation must perform ultrasound scans on a regular basis to be able to follow up closely the number of follicles and ultimately schedule the egg retrieval.
  • Egg cell extraction: Eggs are retrieved from the ovaries by means of follicle aspiration, a very simple and easy medical procedure. It has a duration of approx. 30 minutes and is performed under light sedation. Hospitalisation is usually not required and patients that underwent this procedure can return home on the same day.
  • Egg cell fertilisation: After the retrieval of an adequate number of eggs, they will be analysed in order to assess which of them has reached the optimum stage for being fertilised with donor sperm – additionally, donor sperm must be physically and immunologically matched with the woman who will carry to term and give birth to the child. Spanish law also provides the study and acceptance of donors and sets all the necessary tests. At IVF Spain we go beyond required tests so that we can use eggs and sperm cells with highest assurance of security.  The fertilisation of eggs can be performed by conventional means or ICSI (intracytoplasmatic sperm injection).
  • Embryo culture: After fertilising the eggs, only those developing embryos with the highest implantation rate will be left in appropriate culture media for 3 to 6 days.
  • Preparation of the endometrial lining of the recipient woman: Like we explained at the beginning, in this type of treatments both parties undergo specific hormone treatments. In case of the recipient woman, the hormone intake is aimed at the conception of the child. The recipient woman will be required to take both estrogens and progesterone (orally, vaginally, etc.). During this stage endometrial growth is essential as it must reach the optimal thickness for a successful embryo implantation, which is between 7 and 10 mm approx.
  • Embryo transfer: When the endometrium of the recipient woman reaches the optimal thickness for the embryo implantation – also known as “receptive endometrium” – the embryo with the highest quality is transferred into the uterus. This procedure does not cause any pain and does not require anesthesia or special care after the transfer. However, patients are advised to come to the clinic with full bladder for a convenient display of the uterus. At IVF Spain Alicante we put all our efforts in creating the best possible environment for transferring one embryo of the highest quality, and thus avoiding whenever possible the chances of a multiple pregnancy and the complications thereof for mother and child.
  • Vitrification of the remaining embryos: The Spanish legal framework allows transferring a maximum number of 3 embryos. The viable and high-quality embryos that were not transferred will be cryopreserved by means of vitrification for future treatments if not achieving a pregnancy or for family planning.
  • Pregnancy test: Two weeks after the embryo transfer it will be necessary to perform a pregnancy test in order to confirm (or not) a positive pregnancy.

With this technique both parties will be granted the possibility to actively participate in the journey: one woman will provide the genetic material, whereas the other woman will carry to term and give birth to the child.

There are, however, other important factors that will be explained in the upcoming article: How and to what extent does the pregnant woman affect the embryo from her couple? etc.

More info about ROPA method, coming soon in the next article!