There are a lot of things to consider if you are thinking about becoming a gestational surrogate. This journey will require a great deal of your time and energy (not to mention your body), and it’s not a commitment that any woman should take lightly.
One of the big requirements of surrogacy is the medical process you will subject yourself to. Before you even carry a child for nine months with the risks and responsibilities of pregnancy, you will need to undergo fertility medication and the embryo transfer procedure. You already know what to expect from your pregnancy, but you may be completely unaware of what the embryo transfer process really entails. There may even be a few questions on your mind:
- How bad do the fertility shots hurt?
- How long does the process take?
- Do you have to have sex with the other person’s partner in order to become a surrogate mother?
- How many embryo transfers will I have to go through?
These are all common questions to have. Fortunately, the surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy are here to help. They can answer every question you have about the medical process of surrogacy to alleviate your concerns and, when you’re ready, help you get started with your surrogacy journey. To learn more today, you can always call 1-800-875-BABY(2229).
In order to know what to expect, it’s first important to recognize any misinformation that you may have heard about this process. Below, find seven common myths about in vitro fertilization and the embryo transfer process as they pertain to becoming a gestational surrogate.
- Surrogacy requires “natural” ways of conceiving.
Sometimes, prospective surrogates unfamiliar with the medical process of surrogacy ask, “In order to be a surrogate mother, do you have to have sex with the other person’s partner?”
While this method of surrogacy was common in earlier centuries, the advance of in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination eliminated this practice. Today, the practice of conception in surrogacy is achieved in a laboratory setting, all under the watchful eye of a reproductive endocrinologist. Surrogates do not have to be intimate with the intended father; this kind of relationship would cause far more harm than good. In fact, during the process to become a surrogate, you will have to abstain from all kinds of sexual intercourse — even that with your own spouse or partner.
- You have to take a lot of painful shots to become a surrogate.
Preparing for the embryo transfer process does take a lot of time and energy — but for good reason. A reproductive endocrinologist wants to make sure a potential carrier is as healthy as possible before transferring an embryo, to give all parties the best possible chance of success. In many cases, a prospective surrogate will take certain pills and shots in order to achieve the best conditions for pregnancy.
However, every surrogate’s medical protocol is different. Some surrogates may need to take more shots than others, while some women may not take any at all. While it can be helpful to speak with other surrogates about their medical experience, the only person who can tell you what to expect in your pre-transfer medical protocol is your reproductive endocrinologist.
- Fertility medication causes cancer.
This myth has existed for a while, mostly from fear that ovarian stimulation would stimulate cancer cells, as well. The fact is fertility medication has not been proven to cause cancer; otherwise, professionals would not prescribe it. Your medical professional will always explain the potential side effects of your medication before beginning the protocol to ensure you are comfortable moving forward.
- Your reproductive endocrinologist will transfer several embryos for the best chance of success.
As recent as a decade ago, it was common for fertility doctors to transfer as many embryos as possible for the best chances of a successful pregnancy. Today, it’s a bit different. New methods of screening embryos have emerged, giving medical professionals the ability to determine which are the healthiest embryos before transfer occurs. By choosing only the best embryo for transfer, fertility doctors today improve the chances of conception and reduce the risks associated with multiple births.
As a surrogate, you always have the right to choose how many embryos per transfer you are comfortable with. This will be addressed in your surrogacy contract.
- The embryo transfer process is painful.
Actually, the embryo transfer process is fairly quick and easy — it only takes about five minutes! The process of transferring an embryo to a uterus is a fairly quick one. Many women compare it to the feeling of a pap smear. It may be a bit uncomfortable, and you may feel slight pressure, but it will be over before you know it and you will likely experience minimal side effects.
- Your embryo transfer will succeed the first time around.
While fertility doctors do their best to ensure a successful embryo transfer, the odds are often against you as a surrogate. Even when all factors are advantageous, the live birth rate for each embryo transfer is around 40 percent for women under 35 years old, and that probability decreases the older a woman is. You may have to undergo more than one embryo transfer before becoming pregnant, and it’s usually a situation out of your control. As a surrogate, you will also get the chance to determine how many embryo transfers you are comfortable with in one surrogacy journey before you even begin.
- Any unused embryos will be destroyed.
The issue of unused embryos in IVF can be a sensitive one, even if you are not an intended parent. Keep in mind that the storage and use of any extra embryos will always be up to the intended parents — but not all intended parents will automatically dispose of leftover embryos.
If embryos are deemed healthy enough, they may be donated to other families in need for an embryo adoption. Embryos deemed unhealthy (that is, they would not survive if implanted in a woman’s uterus) are likely disposed of. Intended parents may also choose to store their embryos indefinitely while they make a decision. Wherever you stand on the debate about when life starts, remember that this will be not your concern as a surrogate, although it is something to consider your feelings on before starting the IVF process.
For more information on the medical process of surrogacy and whether surrogacy is right for you, please reach out to our surrogacy specialists today.