07 Apr What is ROPA method?
Who said that a female couple cannot conceive? Thanks to advances in science and technology, assisted reproduction nowadays allows lesbian couples to become mothers and participate in the process. How? In this article we tell you more about this treatment, the so-called ROPA Method (Reception of the Couple’s Eggs).
Also known as shared motherhood, it is one of the alternatives, together with Intrauterine Insemination and In Vitro Fertilisation with donor sperm, available to couples of two women to become mothers. And why this method and not another? Below, we explain what it consists of and what makes it one of the most demanded treatments by the LGTBI community, which arose in response to a social demand, above all, the desire for both women to be able to participate in the pregnancy of their future baby.
More and more female couples are requesting information and undergoing this treatment. Not only national patients, but also married foreign patients seeking this treatment, which is legally restricted in their own country.
What does ROPA method consist of?
If there is one aspect that differentiates it from Intrauterine Insemination or more conventional IVF, it is undoubtedly the synchronisation of the reproductive cycles of both women who participate in this process. This method allows one to provide the egg and the other to gestate the embryo.
We know that the quality of the oocyte decreases as the woman’s age increases, so in a female couple it is always recommended that the egg donor is the younger of the two, as long as the couple does not present any endometrial pathology that could hinder the transfer of the embryo or its gestation.
The egg donor must undergo ovarian stimulation in order to subsequently perform a follicular puncture and obtain the eggs. These will be selected and treated in the laboratory to be fertilised with the sperm of an anonymous donor and create quality embryos. An embryo is then transferred into the uterus of the other couple. Thus, both the biological mother and the surrogate mother are involved in this process.
What does the law in Spain say about the ROPA Method?
This treatment, unlike in other countries, is a legal method in Spain and is included in the Assisted Reproduction Law 14/2006, as it is a process of In Vitro Fertilisation with eggs from a donor, but with the difference that in this case the donor is not anonymous, but is the couple.
In order to carry out this type of treatment, the only requirement is that the couple must be married, thus both contracting the same legal obligations and rights with the future baby, and both obtaining the same legal recognition of maternity. And why married? Because in marriage, anonymity is null and void.
In Spain, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE), 4637 same-sex marriages were celebrated in 2017, representing 2.7 % of the total number of marriages, of which 2 314 (49.9 %) were between women (INE, 2018).
Article 16.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Men and women of full age, without any restriction as to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family, and shall enjoy equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution”.
On the other hand, sperm donation must be anonymous, as in other treatments. These donors will be previously accepted after a rigorous study on diseases, semen quality, age, etc. Therefore, the donation is made in an officially accredited Sperm Bank.
This sperm cannot be used in subsequent pregnancies of the couple if six pregnancies have already been obtained. It is therefore possible to freeze the sample but it is not certain that it can be used at a later date.
What steps are involved in this assisted reproduction treatment?
- First medical consultation, in which the couple can provide us with all the information we need at Reproclinic to find out about diseases, possible genetic problems, history, the couple’s wishes, and much more! In this first consultation we will also advise the couple, give them the signed consents, the budget and a list of medical tests required for the next visit.
- Second consultation to analyse the tests that have been carried out, at the latest 3 months before. If everything is OK, treatment begins!
- Ovarian stimulation of the donor mother. This step is important in order to obtain the highest number of oocytes for fertilisation in the laboratory and to obtain quality embryos. This treatment lasts between 10 and 12 days, with medical consultations every 2 and 3 days, an adjusted treatment of medication, ultrasound monitoring and hormone analysis. Once the eggs have reached the right number and size, a dose of hCG hormone is administered to induce ovulation.
- Ovarian puncture and oocyte retrieval. It is performed 36 hours after the induction of maturation and is a simple procedure, in which a needle is inserted through the vagina, under ultrasound control, to puncture and aspirate the follicles, in which the oocytes will be found and collected in tubes that are taken to the laboratory.
- In vitro fertilisation using the sperm of an anonymous donor. It is performed conventionally or with the ICSI technique, which consists of injecting one sperm into each of the eggs. Once fertilisation takes place, the zygotes (the name given to a correctly fertilised oocyte) will divide, giving rise to the embryo. The embryos are cultured for 3 and 5 days. Our specialists will monitor the development and determine the quality of each embryo in order to be able to select the best quality embryo later on.
- Preparation of the endometrium. The couple who want to carry out the gestation must prepare, at this stage, for the embryo transfer. This treatment will be hormonal and will consist of preparing the uterus.
- Transfer of the embryo, the best quality embryo, into the uterus. This step is usually performed 5-6 days after the puncture. If more than one good quality embryo is generated during the assisted reproduction cycle, they will be vitrified and kept at -196 °C, so that they can be used in a subsequent cycle and thus avoid the whole previous process.
- Pregnancy test, a blood test to determine 100% whether the treatment has been successful or not. The blood pregnancy test is performed 13-15 days after the embryo transfer.
- Ultrasound scan to be performed 20 days after the test to find out if everything is OK and the baby has a heartbeat. If everything is correct, the patient will be discharged.
The success rate of this method is influenced by many factors, such as age, egg quality and ovarian reserve. However, the rate is very high!
At Reproclinic we will do everything possible to make your dream come true. If you want to face motherhood in a shared way, ROPA Method is the most suitable treatment for you. Come for a first consultation free of charge and get more information about this treatment.