A gestational surrogate doesn’t get pregnant the traditional way. Since she carries a baby that is not biologically related to her, she gets pregnant through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF). This process uses an egg from the intended mother or an egg donor.
Since IVF is the mechanism that allows the gestational surrogate to get pregnant, it plays a huge role in gestational surrogacy. The first baby conceived through IVF was born in 1975. The first baby conceived via IVF and born from a gestational surrogate took place soon after, in 1985.
Today, surrogacy through IVF is the norm. But what role does IVF play in gestational surrogacy? Let’s find out.
How IVF for Gestational Surrogacy Works
Traditional IVF usually has five steps, but since a gestational surrogate isn’t using her own egg, the IVF process is much shorter.
Step 1: Getting the Body Ready for the Embryo Transfer
Even if getting pregnant was a piece of cake for the gestational surrogate previously, this pregnancy will start out differently.
After all contracts are signed between the gestational surrogate and intended parent(s), a medical calendar is issued.
Next, the process of hormonally preparing the body for pregnancy starts. This involves medication and a few monitoring appointments at a local clinic for bloodwork to make sure the body is absorbing the hormones properly. The surrogate will also have ultrasounds to ensure that the uterine lining is getting thicker.
The clinic will provide instructions on how to take the medication. Usually, the medication includes both progesterone and estrogen. The intended parent/s’ clinic stays in contact with the monitoring clinic to ensure everything is going smoothly and according to their specifications.
If all goes according to plan, the gestational surrogate will travel to the family’s clinic for the embryo transfer a few weeks later.
Step 2: Getting Pregnant Through IVF
The embryo transfer is the procedure that puts the embryo into the gestational surrogate’s uterus. Many surrogates describe the embryo transfer as pain-free, almost like a pap smear. In most cases, a single embryo is transferred through a catheter to the uterus. The surrogate can go back home or to a hotel to rest for a day or so.
Every healthcare provider has a slightly different protocol when it comes to the embryo transfer process. The gestational surrogate’s contract will specify that they follow the doctor’s instructions closely and carefully.
Step 3: Beta Test
After the transfer, gestational surrogates have to wait about a week to 10 days for a beta test, which is a blood test that detects pregnancy.
Some surrogates choose to take home pregnancy tests (HPTs), but they’re not always accurate. Sometimes the surrogate can be pregnant even if the HPT says negative. It’s important that the gestational surrogate continues all prescribed medications no matter what the HPT says.
On a day determined by the doctor, the surrogate will go to a local lab, have their blood drawn, and hopefully find out that the IVF process was a success.
Pregnancy Through IVF
From start to finish, the IVF process usually takes anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. It’s a little different for gestational surrogates because they don’t have to go through egg retrieval (when eggs are extracted from the ovaries) and the embryos are usually already created. But they still have to take medications as directed to prepare the body, do the embryo transfer, and wait a certain amount of time before taking a beta test to determine pregnancy.
Without the amazing process of IVF, gestational surrogates would not be able to get pregnant with the embryo of the intended parent(s). That goes to show that IVF is a crucial component of the surrogacy journey.
Surrogacy and Egg Donor Services
Since 2004, The Fertility Agency has helped bring over 1100+ babies into the world. We work with all intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors no matter their sexual preference, relationship status, ethnicity, location, etc. Our personal experiences and years of expertise provide us with the perfect balance of business and passion. Contact us for more information.