The ROPA method: everything you need to know

If you and your partner want to become mothers, we have the perfect treatment for you here at IVF-Spain. The ROPA method, the fertility treatment for female couples who want to be mothers.

What is the ROPA method?

The ROPA, or Reception of Oocytes from Partner is in strong demand when both women in a partnership want to participate actively in the process to enable a shared pregnancy. We treat patients using the ROPA method on a regular basis in all our clinics in Alicante, Madrid and San Sebastian.

What does it consist of?

The treatment is based on IVF (in vitro fertilisation) techniques using the couple’s oocytes and semen from an anonymous donor to enable production of the embryo. The method enables both women to be mothers: one will be the biological mother and the other the gestation mother.

The mother who provides her eggs is subjected to controlled, individually-tailored ovarian stimulation using state-of-the-art stimulation protocols because we know that not all patients respond to medication in the same way.

Can we provide a donor’s semen?

Sperm donation is anonymous in Spain and this is a mandatory legal requirement. Therefore, the procedure ensures that the donor cannot ever know the baby’s identity and, once born, the baby can never know the identity of the donor.

In addition to its anonymity, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act defines the donation of semen as a voluntary, altruistic act and is subjected to rigorous medical supervision. The donor assignment criteria are also defined by the Act, which requires exhaustive medical testing of donors including blood tests and sperm analysis, among others.

What does Spanish law have to say about the ROPA method?

Fortunately, here in Spain there is a judicial framework that protects women’s reproductive rights regardless of her sexual orientation or condition. The Assisted Reproduction Act established the right of women to create their own family in freedom but with responsibilities in 1988 and is further strengthened by approval of marriage between people of the same sex as of 2005.

In order to endow female couples with the same reproductive rights as those already legally established for heterosexual couples, the right to resort to assisted reproduction techniques was specifically recognised and broadened in 2006 to expressly include all people regardless of their sexual orientation.

This was undoubtedly a major step towards equality of rights and also enabled both the women in the partnership to be recognised as progenitors of the resulting children.

But in spite of all this, there is still a long way to go to achieve total equality between heterosexual and lesbian couples in the field of assisted reproduction since, although their marriage rights are effectively equal, the same cannot be said of women in de facto relationships who lack legal security because there is no specific legislation in this respect. The only option is to go to court to request judicial recognition of equal rights with heterosexual couples in the same situation or for the biological mother to file for a long and tedious adoption process.

Currently, the mothers have to be married to each other to have the birth registered in both their names. It is impossible as a de facto couple.

How can you ensure that treatment with the ROPA method will be a success?

The fertility clinic must be in constant communication with the patients to ensure that they are familiar with the whole process in order to define and understand the steps required to start a successful pregnancy with the ROPA method. 

Medical consultation: Our specialist doctors will study your case to provide consultancy on the entire procedure, recommend the best therapeutic strategy and design your tailor-made treatment plan including any tests that may be necessary to make your dream — to be mothers — come true.

Ovarian stimulation: We perform ovarian stimulation following protocols especially drawn up for each individual patient to obtain a suitable number of oocytes to fertilise in the laboratory and obtain a quality embryo, thus enhancing the chances of achieving pregnancy. Between ten and twenty days after beginning the treatment the follicles will be at the ideal point to perform the ovarian puncture for oocyte retrieval.

Egg retrieval and follicular aspiration: The procedure consists of extracting the mature oocytes to be fertilised in vitro. It is a minor surgical operation guided by ultrasound scan. It takes place in our clinics’ operating theatres, does not require hospitalisation and the patient usually goes home after a couple of hours’ rest.

Fertilisation and embryo culture: Our embryology team will take care of fertilisation in our laboratory here at IVF-Spain using the semen from the donor previously selected by the medical staff.

Our laboratories are equipped with all the technology required to monitor the embryos and generate a constant stream of information on the cell division and later development of the embryo. This technology enables us to select the best embryo, i.e. the one with the best implant potential and therefore the best chance of achieving pregnancy.

Endometrium preparation: Preparing the endometrium to receive the embryo is a critical step in any fertility treatment. The endometrium is the main player in the implantation process. We have to ensure endometrial growth to the optimum thickness that indicates that it is prepared to receive the embryo.

Transfer of the best embryo: This is a very special moment for the patients because it represents their first contact with their future baby. Transfer is a quick, painless process in which the specialist inserts a flexible cannula through the cervix until the embryo is deposited.

Our clinics recommend the transfer of a single embryo. This is because we are provided with cutting-edge technology to prolong culture until the blastocyst stage, on the fifth or sixth day of development, to select the best-quality embryo and thus avoid the risk of a multiple pregnancy and the associated complications.

Vitrification of the remaining embryos: Once the embryo has been transferred the rest are vitrified so that they can be used for subsequent pregnancies without the need to repeat the ovarian stimulation and follicular puncture stages.

Pregnancy test: The expectant mother will do the β-hCG blood test either at home or at the clinic ten days after transfer of the embryo. Once the test verifies that we have a successful pregnancy we will provide you with instructions for this exciting new stage.

In this video our patients tell us everything about their experience with the ROPA treatment at IVF-Spain.

For further information, please fill in this form. We will answer all your questions and advise you in accordance with your diagnosis, always on an individual basis.