Causes & Treatment

What is the ROPA method in Europe? Reciprocal IVF cost, considerations and treatment planning

Emma Harpham in partnership with Procriar Fertility Clinic  |   29 Feb 2024

What does ROPA stand for in IVF?

ROPA in IVF stands for Reception of Oocytes from Partner, and, in a nutshell, allows same-sex female couples to both take an active role in family building. 

Also known as Reciprocal IVF, ROPA IVF, or Shared Motherhood IVF, price points for this kind of treatment are high at private clinics in the UK, and there’s limited treatment accessible on the NHS.

In Europe, Portugal has led the way in pioneering this technique – with open-ID donors and extended profile information – closely followed by Spain, where local laws require anonymous donors and more limited profile information.

But what is the ROPA method in Europe looking like today, and what else should we know about travelling for treatment? For answers, we’re back partnering with Procriar, a top destination clinic right now. 

Read up on their progressive approach, their IVF over 45 treatment offering, plus our deep-dive chat covering open ID egg donation, for a look into the Portugal-based team’s expertise. 

This time, we caught up with Vladimiro Silva, Scientific and Executive Director at Procriar, to chat through;

  • The typical Reciprocal IVF timeline
  • What to know about Reciprocal IVF cost and financing
  • Shared Motherhood IVF success rates
  • Choosing a sperm donor
  • Having ROPA IVF in Portugal

Over to Vladimiro, for the latest.

What is the ROPA Method in Europe?

The ROPA method is a way for lesbian couples to jointly participate in the process of having a baby. Here’s how it works.

  1. One partner undergoes ovarian stimulation, and her eggs are collected after her ovarian follicles reach a certain size.
  2. These eggs are then fertilized with sperm from a donor in a lab. 
  3. The embryos that form are grown until they reach the blastocyst stage.
  4. The other partner prepares her uterus to receive the embryos. This can happen at the same time as the egg retrieval or later, with the embryos being frozen in the meantime.

Regardless of who contributes the eggs or carries, both partners have equal rights over the embryos. 

This method emphasizes shared motherhood as an act of love, and the journey of building a family, together. It’s becoming more common in IVF clinics, and we do see more and more same-sex female couples interested in this treatment at Procriar.

shared motherhood ivf success rate

What is the typical Reciprocal IVF timeline?

The typical Reciprocal IVF timeline involves about 12 days of ovarian stimulation, with hormone injections and monitoring through blood tests and ultrasound scans to track follicle growth.

After this, embryo culture takes 5 to 6 days, before transferring the blastocyst(s).

It also takes some time to prepare the egg carrier’s uterus for pregnancy. This can be done simultaneously with the partner’s ovarian stimulation for a fresh transfer, or later with cryopreserved embryos, whether that’s due to logistical or medical reasons. 

Non-synchronised transfers may add another month or two to the process, depending on menstrual cycles and the endometrium preparation needed.

How much can reciprocal IVF cost us, in Europe? 

Reciprocal IVF is primarily practised in Portugal and Spain, and prices do vary between countries. This is largely due to sperm donor costs. Here’s a short breakdown.

Treatment costs

In Portugal, treatment costs around €5,250 at Procriar, and includes your first embryo transfer. 

Unlike some clinics in the UK, Procriar includes all the latest techniques and technologies in their package price, with no hidden costs. 

This includes things like the use of embryoscope for optimal culture conditions and embryo selection, assisted hatching (if needed), extended embryo culture and embryo glue. The cost of medication is not included.

Additional expenses for ROPA IVF may include freezing and storing surplus embryos, and any additional embryo transfers.

Donor costs

Whilst anonymous Spanish donors are typically more affordable, you don’t get any of the transparency.

Open ID donors with extended profiles from Portuguese sperm banks add just €550 at Procriar, on top of treatment costs.

Procriar also offers a Genetic Matching Program which it recommends for all donor treatments to minimise the risks of genetically transmissible diseases.

Using donors from other banks, like those in Denmark, is much pricier.


What is the Shared Motherhood IVF success rate?

Shared Motherhood IVF success rates usually depend on the age of the woman undergoing ovarian stimulation. 

The embryo recipient’s age isn’t as critical; in Portugal, we can perform treatments up to age 49 years and 364 days for both partners.

Success rates vary widely, from over 60% with eggs from younger women, to less than 5% with eggs from women that are over 43 years old. 

We’d always assess each patient individually to provide an accurate expectation of success.

Can we choose our own sperm donor for Reciprocal IVF? 

You can absolutely choose your own sperm donor for Reciprocal IVF. 

If you’d like to use a donor from our own sperm bank at Procriar, our donor coordinator will chat with you to understand your preferences. They’ll then offer you the extended profile of the donor we think fits best, and the process will only start when you’re happy with the donor.

If you want to choose a donor from one of the international sperm banks that we work with instead, we just need you to let us know the code of the donor that you’ve chosen, and we’ll take it from there.

The only requirement from our side for international donors is that they are open-ID, without adult photos available.

reciprocal ivf cost

Can our clinic help us decide who will carry, and who’s egg we’ll use? 

Deciding who will carry the embryo and whose eggs to use is deeply personal. 

At Procriar, we’re here to support you through this decision by evaluating both partners’ fertility and uterine conditions objectively. However, ultimately, it’s a highly intimate choice that involves emotions and relationship dynamics. We’re here to provide guidance, but the final decision is yours to make.

We also have counselling sessions available for couples who feel that these could help them make a decision.

Why choose Portugal, for ROPA IVF?

As well as being a leading country in Europe for ROPA IVF treatment, Portugal is the only destination with;

  • Progressive legislation
  • State-of-the-art care
  • The most affordable prices

The transparency and patient-friendliness of Portuguese legislation makes it a supportive destination for lesbian couples who want to build their families on a positive, inclusive environment. 

For us, all of this resonates. If you and your partner are looking into Reciprocal IVF, connect with the team at Procriar, whenever you’re ready, to get started. 

Book an initial consultation to chat through your options, explore their Open-ID donor network, and find tailored treatment with no wait time. 

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