26 Apr Lesbian Visibility Week
Even in 2023, lesbian visibility remains a taboo topic, and lesbians around the world still face discrimination, i.e., lesbophobia, which is rooted in both homophobia and misogyny, and it perpetuates an environment of exclusion and intolerance against same-sex couples.
Our team at Reproclinic refuses to stay silent on this topic, and during this year’s Lesbian Visibility Week, we want to address these injustices by advocating for better protection against harassment. In many countries, the lesbian community is confronted with numerous obstacles and injustices, especially when it comes to them starting a family. One of the most prominent issues is the inequality in access to IVF for lesbian couples, which makes their journey towards motherhood not only challenging, but also unfair.
In fact, more than half of the European countries prohibit access to assisted reproduction for lesbians. As a result, thousands of lesbians have no choice but to seek treatment as “single women”, despite having a female partner, because they would not be attended to otherwise. The solution for those who don’t wish to misrepresent themselves, oftentimes is to fly to another country where they would not be judged for who they choose to love. In Europe, a woman in a female couple would be limited to 18 out of the 43 countries, if she wishes to undergo artificial insemination, and to 13 of the 43 countries, if she opts for IVF. In Spain’s specific case, the law allows women in female couples to undergo artificial insemination with donated sperm, and four different types of IVF: with donated sperm, with donated eggs, with donated sperm and eggs, and, finally, with donated embryos.
One of the most popular fertility treatments among lesbian couples is reciprocal IVF, known as “ROPA” (Reception of Oocytes from the Partner) in Spain. This one-of-a-kind treatment allows both women to actively participate in the pregnancy process, as it involves one of them providing her eggs, which are then fertilized with donated sperm through in vitro fertilization. Then, the best-quality embryo is implanted into her partner’s uterus, who plays the role of a gestational mother. The remaining good-quality embryos are subsequently frozen, in case the couple wishes to have more children in the future.
Two aspects make this treatment different from traditional IVF. The first one is that reciprocal IVF, or ROPA, provides lesbian couples with greater flexibility and control, as they can decide which partner is going to be the one donating the egg, and which one is going to carry the pregnancy. The second one is that this method is slightly more complex, since it involves medical procedures for both partners; still, the risks associated with it are similar to those of conventional IVF.
This method presents a significant advantage for lesbian couples, as it empowers each partner to make a unique biological contribution to their family, fostering a deeper sense of emotional connection. Some lesbian couples choose to undergo dual reciprocal IVF, or ROPA, in which case both partners carry each other’s child at the same time. Alternatively, couples sometimes choose to switch their roles in their second IVF cycle, when they’re in the process of conceiving their second child.
Last but not least, lesbian couples should be aware of the legal rights that their country grants to them. For instance, it may be necessary for the partner who donated the egg to undergo a legal adoption process to secure the same parental rights over her biological child, as the partner carrying the pregnancy.
We are aware that, for most female couples, having a baby is their dearest wish. In honor of this LGBTQIA+ Awareness Month, Reproclinic is offering a 10% discount for all ROPA treatments, to help lessen the financial burden of same-sex female couples who wish to become mothers.
All couples who have entrusted our Reproclinic team with their family project in the past, know that Spain has long proved to be a leader in assisted reproduction. In fact, the most recent statistics by the Spanish Fertility Society’s report on assisted reproductive treatments, which all 313 Spanish fertility centers have been taking part in, shows that 30.479 newborns (8.9% of all newborns) were conceived via assisted reproductive techniques in 2020. This further confirms that Reproclinic’s experience in assisted reproduction allows our team of specialists to provide the best patient care and an integrated approach to fertility for all our patients.