One of the most important professionals involved in a surrogacy process is a fertility clinic. While surrogacy agencies like American Surrogacy can complete every other step of the surrogacy process, intended parents and surrogates will need to select and work with a fertility clinic to complete the medical aspect of their surrogacy journey.
Know this: The terms “fertility clinic” and “surrogacy clinic” are interchangeable. Many surrogacy clinics are also fertility clinics, assisting intended parents with many different assisted reproductive technologies. As surrogacy has become more popular, more general fertility clinics have expanded their services to include gestational surrogacy embryo transfers.
But, what other services do fertility clinics provide in surrogacy journeys? After all, it’s important to know exactly what to expect from a clinic in order to choose the one that is best for your surrogacy goals.
In general, there are three main services fertility clinics provide in surrogacy today:
1. Pre-Surrogacy Screening
Before a surrogate or an intended parent can pursue the surrogacy process, they must be cleared by several professionals. Each surrogacy professional and fertility clinic has its own requirements but, here at American Surrogacy, all surrogacy clients must undergo screening by a mental health professional and a physician to ensure they are mentally and physically ready for the challenges of the surrogacy process.
Most intended parents will have undergone medical screening prior to choosing surrogacy, if they have already created their embryos. If they have not, they will need to undergo this testing to create their embryos. Similarly, their surrogate must undergo medical testing to ensure she can carry a healthy baby to term.
Some fertility clinics also have psychologists on staff that can complete this mental health screening prior to any medical steps taking place. If your fertility clinic does not offer these services, your surrogacy specialist at American Surrogacy can help connect you to a trusted professional and coordinate necessary screening before moving forward with your surrogacy journey.
2. Egg Harvesting and Embryo Creation
In most cases, intended parents who choose to pursue surrogacy have already created their embryos for earlier infertility treatments. When it comes time for an embryo transfer to their surrogate, the embryos are ready — only the surrogate must take medical steps to prepare for the transfer.
However, if intended parents have not yet created embryos, they can do so at a fertility clinic of their choosing. Intended parents who are using their own egg and sperm will work closely with their medical professional to undergo the harvesting procedure and in vitro fertilization process. Intended parents who are in need of a donor gamete can work with their fertility clinic to obtain a donation. Many fertility clinics have connections with particular gamete banks or can help coordinate the donation process with a known egg or sperm donor.
Once the gametes are gathered, your fertility clinic will prepare for and complete the in vitro fertilization process. Sperm and egg cells will be combined in a laboratory under medical supervision, and resulting embryos are evaluated for quality through pre-implantation genetic screening. Only the best quality embryos will be used for embryo transfer.
IVF is the most-used assisted reproductive technology out there. For many fertility clinics, it’s the most common technique they offer. While there may be slight changes in the IVF process when surrogacy is involved, you can trust that your fertility clinic will be able to complete this step efficiently.
3. Embryo Transfer and Confirmation of Pregnancy
Once the embryos are ready for transfer (whether they are part of a fresh or frozen cycle), the fertility clinic will prepare the surrogate for the embryo transfer, too. She will usually be required to take certain fertility medications for a few weeks prior to and after transfer to establish and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
The embryo transfer itself is a fairly quick and routine procedure. A surrogate will typically be required to travel to the intended parents’ clinic for the transfer. A catheter will be inserted into her cervix, through which one or two high-quality embryos will be transferred. She may be required to rest for at least 48 hours after transfer to increase the chance of a successful implantation.
A week or two after the embryo transfer is complete, the surrogate will return to the fertility clinic for the pregnancy test. While she may have taken at-home pregnancy tests to monitor her hCG levels, the medical test at the clinic will officially confirm any pregnancy. If a pregnancy is confirmed, the surrogate will be released to her own obstetrician to receive prenatal care. If a pregnancy is not confirmed, the fertility clinic will work with both parties to schedule another embryo transfer, if possible.
Because your fertility clinic will play such a key role in your medical process of surrogacy, it’s critical that you choose a trusted medical professional to guide you through these steps. If you have not yet selected a fertility clinic, our specialists can always provide referrals to local clinics when you contact our agency at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).
Remember, every fertility clinic is different, as is every intended parent’s and surrogate’s journey through surrogacy. Your own process may vary from what’s included here, and all surrogacy clients should speak with their doctor for more information about what their process will look like.