Blog post written in collaboration with our partners IVF-Spain.
The ROPA method was pioneered in 2010, enabling two women to both participate in the biological conception of their child. This process has redefined the concept of parenthood. We spoke with Dr Héctor Izquierdo from IVF-Life to learn about ROPA method and ask some of the questions patients have been sending us.
What is ROPA method?
ROPA method stands for reception of oocytes from the partner. It is a technique for female same sex couples, in which the embryo is the end result of the egg of one of its mothers and is carried in the uterus of the other. It allows both mothers to participate in the gestation process.
Can couples choose who contributes with eggs and who carries the pregnancy?
Dr Héctor Izquierdo from IVF-Life explains: "We see the couple as a team and always ask them to keep an open mind. We start by checking both women's medical history, run a few tests and scans and can suggest, based on that information, who would be best to contribute with the eggs and who would be best to contribute with the uterus. For example, one woman may have low ovarian reserve, in which case it would be best for her to be the one carrying the pregnancy, with her partner, giving the eggs. Ultimately, the couple can choose, but we want to advise them, to maximise their chances of having a baby."
How do we choose the sperm donor?
The legal framework doesn't allow patients to choose the donor, because donation is an anonymous process in Spain. Dr Héctor Izquierdo from IVF-Life explained that it is the clinical team that chooses the most adequate donor for patients. The choice of sperm donor is based on the woman who receives the donation. This means that in the ROPA method, the sperm donor will have similar characteristics to the woman who is contributing with the uterus and is carrying the pregnancy. Ultimately the baby will look like both women.
Are we both registered as mothers in the birth certificate?
Most countries don't acknowledge the origin of eggs and sperm in the birth certificate initially. Usually the woman who gives birth, will be named in the birth certificate. Dr Héctor Izquierdo from IVF-Life explained, if the couple is married, they will both be named in the birth certificate. If the couple is not married, the pregnant woman, goes through a legal notary to request that her partner is added to the birth certificate.
What are the success rates with ROPA?
Success rates are very different, depending on the womens' age, their clinical history and specific circumstances. Most of times, these patients are younger and if they were in an heterosexual relationship, they would get pregnant naturally. When this is the case, and all they need is a sperm donor, the process is very easy and pregnancy rates are quite high. But we also see several women who discovered their sexuality later in life, and come through this process of parenthood when their fertility is already declining. In these cases, if ovarian reserve is low, the chances with those eggs, are a bit lower.
What happens to leftover embryos?
Dr Héctor Izquierdo from IVF-Life told us that when the couple gets pregnant, if they have any embryos left from the fertility treatment process, these are frozen and kept at the clinic. If the couple wants to have more children, they can transfer these embryos at a later stage.