When women are considering becoming surrogates, there are many questions in their minds. However, two of the biggest often are, “What medication will I need to take? Do I have to give myself shots?”
Like women undergoing fertility treatments, all surrogates must take certain medications to prepare themselves for the in vitro fertilization process. However, not all women have the same medication experience. Some women can breeze through their medication schedule, while others experience side effects that interfere with their everyday life.
If you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, you might have heard horror stories about these negative side effects and the shots you have to take. It’s important you learn the truth about surrogacy medication before beginning this process, as it may or may not affect your final decision.
Every Surrogate’s Medication Schedule is Different
First, know this: Every surrogacy journey is unique, and so is every surrogate’s prescribed medication schedule. What you hear from others may not apply to your own surrogacy. Only your surrogacy and medical professionals will know what your surrogacy journey will involve.
To answer one of your biggest questions, yes, you likely will need to take self-injected medication. Most commonly, these shots are Lupron shots. Lupron is a medication that inhibits the secretion of hormones that control your menstrual cycle. It is critical to allowing your reproductive endocrinologist complete control over your cycle in order to prepare it for the embryo transfer. Lupron is usually taken about 14 days after you start taking birth control, and you will discontinue the shots in the days before your embryo transfer.
Some of the worst shots you may have heard about are progesterone in oil injections, which are administered via a large needle and in lots of liquid. However, many surrogates have developed ways to alleviate any discomfort from these shots. You may consider icing the site before injection, massaging the area after injection, and using a heating pad. As scary as the needle can be, the pain afterwards is more like that of a bruise than anything else. You may also take progesterone through gels or pills; your medical professional will determine which process is best for you.
Other medications you may take include doxycycline, baby aspirin, prenatal vitamins, estrogen and more. Again, only your reproductive endocrinologist can inform you of what medication you will actually take to prepare for your embryo transfer. Your medical professional will discuss this schedule in detail with you and make sure you have the tools in place to maintain the correct doses at the correct time of day.
Every Surrogate Has Different Reactions and Side Effects
You may have also heard about the side effects of surrogate medication. Like all medication, the medicines you take to become a surrogate may have some side effects — but, again, their severity will depend upon your own body and your tolerance for those medications.
Some surrogates only experience minor side effects (like bloating and soreness), while others experience much more intense effects. Whatever the extent of your personal side effects, remember that your reproductive endocrinologist will always answer any questions you have and adjust your medication schedule to what is best for you.
There are many medications involved in surrogacy, so don’t be surprised if you experience side effects pre-transfer. In the grand scheme of things, these side effects often aren’t a deal-breaker (very comparable to PMS symptoms), and what you are doing will help bring a child into the world. When they look back on it, many surrogates consider any discomfort well worth it to help reach their surrogacy goals.
You May Need the Help of Others
Surrogate medication protocols can be complicated — and you aren’t expected to embark on this journey on your own. It’s obvious that your surrogacy professional and your reproductive endocrinologist will be intimately involved in your medication schedule, but you should also be open to including other people to make the journey a bit easier.
During your medication protocol, you will be required to take certain medications at certain times. It can be incredibly helpful to include your partner or another loved one in your schedule. They can give you any shots you feel uncomfortable doing yourself, or they can provide childcare and other practical assistance during times when your side effects are particularly bad.
It is a good idea to include your partner (if applicable) in your discussions with your reproductive endocrinologist. That way, they can understand your medication protocol, how to administer it and what serious side effects to look out for.
It’s normal to have questions about what kind of medication you’ll need to take as a surrogate. To learn more about this process (and the general process of surrogacy), please reach out to our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).