How do the Surrogacy and IVF Processes Work in Gestational Surrogacy?
Many intended families grow with the help of gestational surrogacy. To do this, they rely on the magic of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to share a genetic bond with their child. But, how does everything work? What does the IVF process look like? What is the surrogacy process like?
Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Colorado guides our surrogates through the surrogacy process of gestational surrogacy with the help of counseling from our surrogacy specialists and resources to prepare them for pregnancy. Below, we explain how the surrogacy and IVF processes work in gestational surrogacy to bring healthy babies to intended families.
How does the Surrogacy Process Work?
Gestational surrogacy begins with the intended parents’ egg and sperm. The eggs and sperm, respectively, are then combined in a laboratory setting to form multiple embryos. How long this takes can greatly vary. During this time, the surrogate is preparing herself with hormones, a healthy diet and timing her menstrual cycle. She is then artificially inseminated with the intended parents’ embryo(s).
Once there has been a successful transfer, a heartbeat found at the six-week ultrasound will confirm a healthy pregnancy.
What does the IVF Process Look Like?
As just mentioned, the IVF process is when the embryo(s) are transferred into the surrogate. However, IVF is a bit more involved than that.
Here is a deeper look at what the IVF process with gestational surrogacy entails:
- Examinations and Fertility Treatments to Prepare for IVF
The surrogate will be given a medical screening to make sure her body is healthy and ready to go through pregnancy. This involves not only a physical examination, but also an ultrasound for the uterus.
Additionally, surrogates are given hormone treatments (typically, progesterone injections and estrogen replacements) and may be put on birth control pills so the fertility doctor can track her cycle carefully.
- Sperm and Egg Donation or Retrieval before IVF
The intended parent or egg donor will be given hormone injections so that they produce more than one egg each month. They will also take medications to help mature the eggs to the correct developmental stage. Before the eggs are released from the follicle, the egg donor will go to the fertility clinic, where the eggs will be retrieved. This is done through using a hollow needle, while the intended mother or donor is under pain medication or full anesthesia.
Sperm donation, by either the donor or intended parent, will happen the same day as egg retrieval for the best chances of fertilization.
- Embryo Formation using IVF
The egg and sperm will be fertilized in a laboratory, and then remain under observation to watch their development. The fertility clinic will watch over them closely for five days, give or take.
If the intended parents have frozen their embryos, those will be gently thawed and given the opportunity to grow.
- Surrogate/IVF Embryo Transfer
The surrogate will come into the fertility clinic once she is five days past the midpoint of her cycle and the embryos have grown. The fertility doctor will transfer up to three embryos into her uterus using a catheter. Transferring more than one at a time increases the chance of a successful pregnancy.
Once she has been inseminated, the surrogate will go home and rest for a few days.
- Checking for IVF Success
The surrogate will return to the fertility clinic one week after the embryo transfer to check her pregnancy hormone (HCG) levels. A typical range can be anywhere between 50 for a single pregnancy to 200 if multiple embryos were successfully fertilized and implanted. However, this can vary from woman to woman, and it’s best to consult with your doctor about what to expect for this. After this first check, the doctor will likely want to check again in a few days.
If the first embryo transfer is not successful, the surrogate can begin another round of IVF when her cycle is ready. Most surrogacy agreements decide on three embryo transfer attempts in the hopes of a successful pregnancy. This will mean starting the IVF process over and continuing to take her hormones as directed.
- Signs of Pregnancy after IVF
Six weeks after the successful embryo transfer, the surrogate will return to the doctor for an ultrasound. Once the doctor hears a heartbeat from the baby, the pregnancy is official. The surrogate may need to return for a 12-week ultrasound with the fertility clinic, but will then be transferred to her OB/GYN for regular care. The surrogate will no longer need to take her hormones after the 12-week point, unless directed to do so by her doctor. The placenta will produce the necessary hormones from that point on.
Throughout the pregnancy, the surrogate will continue with her prenatal care regimen, which will include vitamins and supplements to promote the successful growth and development of the baby.
Understanding How the Surrogacy and IVF Processes Work in Gestational Surrogacy
At Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Colorado, we understand that each surrogate has her own journey. We are here to support you throughout both the surrogacy and IVF processes.
If you have any more questions, or any concerns, about either of these processes, please contact our surrogacy specialists.
If you are interested in learning more about your gestational surrogacy options, contact Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Colorado by email, phone, or text: Email Us, Text us: 720-371-1099, Call us: 303-670-4673 (HOPE). If you are hoping to adopt, please contact us here.
Meet the Author: Madilyn Moeller is a writer and editor keen on translating the technical. Madilyn’s years of science writing shine through as she explains everything from health insurance to moving for her readers. Madilyn has a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University in Professional Writing, Psychology, and Neuroscience. She is a lifelong writer bringing her curiosity to the marketing stage, building websites and blogs for businesses moving online. She knows more about Medicare than any young adult should.