Detailed Guide to the Embryo Transfer Process for Surrogates

The embryo transfer process consists of a medical screening, taking a regimen of fertility medications, the embryo transfer itself, becoming pregnant and giving the gift of parenthood.

The embryo transfer process is a significant part of your journey to become a surrogate. This step in the surrogacy medical process is what will enable you to become pregnant and carry the intended parents’ child.

If you don’t know what to expect, that’s OK. We’ll walk you through the process for the embryo transfer, giving you a clear understanding of the procedure from start to finish.

To learn more about any of the specific steps mentioned below, get in touch with us today to get more free information more about the transfer and embryo process. 

Embryo Transfer Process [5 Steps]

Becoming a surrogate is a life-changing opportunity for everyone involved. The embryo transfer process is an integral part of your journey and carrying a baby.   

As a surrogate, you are the gestational carrier for the intended parents you match with. And since you don’t contribute any genetic material to the creation of the embryo, the embryo transfer process is the only part of the in-vitro fertilization process that applies to you.

Although the medical steps may be foreign to you, knowing how the process of an embryo transfer works can help alleviate any concerns you have. 

Here’s a look at the embryo transfer process step-by-step:

Step 1: Medical Screening

The first of the 5 steps of the embryo transfer process is a medical screening. The medical screening is done to assess your overall health and that you are capable of carrying a baby to term.

These screenings typically consist of:

  • Blood tests
  • Hormonal assessments
  • Infectious disease screening
  • Genetic testing
  • Physical exam

These screenings are a safeguard, not only for you but the baby too. This screening ensures that you are ready to be a surrogate and you can complete a pregnancy safely and successfully. 

Step 2: Fertility Medications

Fertility medications are another necessary step when it comes to the process before the embryo transfer.

These medications help regulate the hormones in your body that it needs for pregnancy while also preparing your uterus for the embryo transfer process.

As far as the specific medications you will take, no two medication lists will look exactly the same as they will be prescribed to you based on your body chemistry, but the medications used typically include:

  • Birth control pills
  • Lupron
  • Estrogen
  • Progestogen

Other medications that may be administered depending on the fertility clinic you work with include

  • Antibiotics
  • Aspirin
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Medrol

Dosage and the regimen for all medications used are dependent on your circumstances and the medications prescribed.

Step 3: The Embryo Transfer

The process for the embryo transfer sees the selected embryos loaded into a catheter that is then inserted into your uterus where the embryos are released into the uterine cavity.

The embryo you will carry is created through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The egg and sperm come from the intended parents or a donor’s egg and sperm.

Before IVF occurs, the type of embryo transfer needs to be decided upon.

Frozen Embryo Transfers

Frozen embryo transfers are the most common type of transfer, allowing for genetic testing before implementation. This allows for a lower likelihood of a genetic defect or miscarriage and helps create higher success rates. 

Fresh Embryo Transfers

Once an embryo is created, the fertility doctor determines which of them has the best chance of implementation. Three to five days after the embryo retrieval, the fresh embryo transfer process will see the newly created embryos transferred back into your uterus. 

Day 3 Embryo Transfer

Not all embryos can survive until the fifth day. Some fertility doctors will choose to transfer the dividing embryo on the third day so the embryo can thrive in your uterus.

Day 5 Embryo Transfer

These day five embryos have a higher chance of being genetically normal in addition to success rates with implementation and pregnancy vs. day three transfers. The longer you wait to transfer an embryo, the more your fertility doctor can single out the embryos with the best chance of implementation. 

Multiple vs. Single Embryo Transfer

Fertility clinics have different policies but single embryo transfers are typically more common, depending on factors like your age and reproductive history. 

The intended parents may even have embryos already created in preparation for surrogacy or from other IVF attempts. But no matter what their situation looks like when it comes to embryos, your eggs will not be used in the embryo transfer process.

In terms of the process after the embryo transfer, it’s recommended that you be on bedrest for 48 hours. You’ll get all of the emotional support and reassurance you deserve at this stage as you become that much closer to bringing new life into the world and transforming the lives of the intended parents.

To get more free information about this or any of the other five steps in the embryo transfer process, reach out to us.

Step 4: Pregnancy Monitoring and Support

About a week or two after you complete the transfer embryo process, you will head back to the fertility clinic. They’ll provide pregnancy monitoring services, looking at your human chorionic gonadotropic (hCG) levels.

hCG is a hormone that is made by your placenta and found when you’re pregnant.

If another embryo transfer process is required to become pregnant, that’s OK! Multiple transfers may be required before a pregnancy is confirmed and it’s completely normal.

Once a pregnancy has been confirmed, the process after the embryo transfer involves regular medical check-ups to check on the health of you and the baby. These check-ups can include:

  • Ultrasounds
  • Blood tests
  • Obstetrician consultations

Step 5: Creating a Family

The birth of the baby is what the step in the embryo transfer process has been leading up to.

This part of the embryo transfer process involves your surrogacy specialist, medical team and the intended parents, it’ll be a team effort in planning what the hospital stay and delivery looks like.

You will collaborate on a birth plan that addresses how everything will play out, respecting the wishes of both parties involved that culminates in the memorable moment of the intended parents holding their child for the first time.

As a surrogate, you can return to life with your family knowing that you have changed the lives of the intended parents forever and you will always be part of that family’s story.

Get the Support You Deserve

FAQs About the Embryo Transfer Process

How Long Does the Embryo Transfer Process Take?

The procedure itself typically takes around 15-30 minutes. In terms of the overall time for the procedure, set up, rest time and transportation, you could be looking at a two to four hour block.

What Does the Embryo Transfer Process Feel Like?

The embryo transfer process is quick, easy and physically painless. It doesn’t usually require anesthesia or for you to be sedated.

Emotionally, you may begin to feel nervous about the pregnancy or excited about the opportunity of bringing someone’s baby into the world for them. Whatever emotions you are feeling are valid and you can talk with your specialist about how to address the wide range of emotions you may feel. 

What Is the Recovery Process After Embryo Transfer?

Similar to the length of the embryo transfer, recovery wise, it’s a quick process. As a non-invasive procedure, you are allowed as much time as needed to recover depending on your comfort level once the transfer is complete.

24-hour bedrest is recommended by some doctors but it ultimately comes down to your level of comfortability and body’s response to the transfer.

What Happens Next In the Process After Embryo Transfer?

Once the transfer is complete, it will take 9-14 days to detect a pregnancy. Here’s what can be happening on those days:

  • Day 1 and 2: The blastocyst hatches out of its shell and begins to try to attach itself to the uterus.
  • Day 3: Implantation begins as the blastocyst moves deeper into the uterine lining.
  • Day 4 and 5: Implantation continues and becomes complete. The cells that will be the placenta and fetus begin to develop.
  • Day 6: The hCG hormone is starting to be produced.
  • Day 7 and 8: Development continues, and more hCG is secreted into the bloodstream.
  • Day 9: hCG levels may be high enough to detect pregnancy