ROPA method: two moms participating in gestation

Are you a couple of women? If you wish to become a mother, you can experience this stage in different ways. Nowadays you have at your disposal different assisted reproduction techniques such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. These treatments are not exclusive for homosexual couples, but are also indicated for women without a partner who wish to have a child or for heterosexual couples who need support to conceive.

On the other hand, there is a method of assisted reproduction different from the previous ones that offers the possibility for both women to participate in the gestation of the baby: the ROPA method (Reception of Oocytes from the Partner), also known as “shared maternity”. In this way, expectant mothers are allowed to actively participate in the conception of their future baby.

What is the ROPA method?

The ROPA method consists of performing in vitro fertilization, with the participation of the two women in the couple, and a semen sample from an anonymous donor. In this method, one of the women in the couple undergoes controlled ovarian stimulation to provide oocytes and thus the genetic load, which are extracted by aspiration of the follicles during the ovarian puncture. The other, after having prepared her uterus to receive the embryo resulting from the treatment, will gestate it.

The oocytes are inseminated with the semen of an anonymous donor who will be selected by the medical team according to the recipient’s physical characteristics and blood group. In addition, we can currently offer the couple the search for a donor with the maximum genetic compatibility to minimize the risk of a recessive hereditary disease in the future baby.

The steps of the process are:

  1. Ovarian stimulation: the woman who donates the eggs to her partner undergoes a course of hormonal medication to stimulate the maturation of more than one egg. Subsequently, the eggs are extracted from the follicles by aspiration.
  2. Fertilization and culture: the oocytes are fertilized in the laboratory with the sperm of an anonymous donor and cultured for several days to select the best quality embryo at the blastocyst stage.
  3. Embryo transfer: the woman who is going to gestate must undergo a uterine preparation so that the selected embryo can be transferred into her uterus.

Who provides the eggs and who becomes pregnant?

Choosing which of the two women of the couple will be the most suitable to gestate the baby and which will be the most appropriate for egg donation will be joint decisions to be made between the two women of the couple with the medical team.

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Normally, it is recommended that the woman who is going to provide the genetic load be the youngest of the couple. In this way the quality of the eggs will be higher, since this decreases with age. On the other hand, the woman who is going to gestate the embryo must be a healthy woman, without contraindications for pregnancy and without problems in the uterine cavity, in order to maximize the probabilities of pregnancy.

The success rate of the ROPA method is the same as that of in vitro fertilization (75% in women under 35 years of age), and depends, to a large extent, on the age of the woman who donates the eggs, as well as on the state of her ovarian reserve.

What is the legal framework for this treatment?

Although medically it is not a new procedure, since it does not involve changes in embryology protocols, it represents a revolution from the social point of view. A few years ago this technique could not be carried out, since the Assisted Human Reproduction Law made it very clear that all gamete donations had to be anonymous. However, in 2005 the Civil Code was modified and the rights of homosexual marriages were made equal to those of heterosexual marriages. From that moment on, the ROPA method cannot be considered a donation, since one part of the couple is freely sharing their gametes with the other, in exactly the same way as a heterosexual couple would do.

Furthermore, according to current Spanish legislation, since 2007 the law recognizes dual maternity in the Civil Registry and children born from the ROPA method can have two mothers for legal purposes. The only requirement for this is that the couple must be married. In the case of unmarried couples, donation is possible but the mother who does not gestate the embryo must initiate a process of adoption of the future baby.

At CREA we have a great team of qualified professionals who have a continuous control of the treatments, and we perform this assisted reproduction procedure with the most advanced tools and in a quality laboratory equipped with the latest technology so that the chances of success are maximized.