Why So Many Medical Requirements to Become a Gestational Carrier?
Being a Gestational Carrier will involve highly customized care, thorough medical testing, and precise timing to ensure a successful pregnancy. There are many parts of the process and each must be tailored to the agreement a surrogate has with intended parents. Surrogacy has become a popular choice for families despite an intense process.
Reasons for Routine Testing for Surrogates
Depending on the surrogacy agency, medical screening may be done before or after you are matched with intended parents. The purpose is to be sure your body is ready for a healthy and successful pregnancy.
Routine tests done or requested by the intended parent’s fertility clinic will include:
- Vaginal ultrasound (external) or a hysteroscopy (internal) to examine the health of your uterus and fallopian tubes
- Blood drawn to rule out infectious diseases, such as herpes or hepatitis
- Saline sonograms to flush the uterus and check for fibroids and other things that can interfere with a pregnancy
- Recent pap smear completed by your regular physician
- Mammogram to check breast health
- Social or psychological evaluations if required
Why a “Mock Cycle” May Be Performed
Gestational carriers never use their eggs. The intended mother or egg donor is given hormones to induce ovulation for IVF at a certified fertility clinic. The process for retrieving “fresh” eggs and incubating them for fertilization is very precise. After five days, the date and time of an actual embryo transfer can be scheduled. Your body needs to be ready.
To sync the surrogate’s cycle with the intended mother’s induced ovulation, a reproductive specialist uses medications to prepare you and may do a mock hormone cycle first. Birth control pills and Lupron injections help shut down hormone production to control the timing of your menstrual cycle and ensure your uterus is ready to receive the embryos at the right time. Checking the uterine lining in advance ensures it is responding correctly to the medications. Several ultrasounds and bloodwork may be taken to check hormone levels.
Some fertility clinics do a mock embryo transfer to check the angle of your cervix and the size of your uterine cavity to determine the best way to insert the catheter for embryo implantation. After a successful mock cycle, you are ready.
What’s Happening During the Embryo Transfer Procedure
The day before the egg retrieval, Lupron injections stop, and progesterone is used to maintain the correct level of hormones for the uterus to support a pregnancy. The daily progesterone may require intramuscular injections you can administer at home or the doctor’s office.
Around this time, you may also be taking estrogen replacement. Both progesterone and estrogen are needed for twelve weeks until the placenta takes over hormone production.
When the embryo is transferred, an ultrasound often helps with embryo placement, and you may be asked to remain lying down afterward or rest for a few days to ensure implantation.
Reasons for Follow-up Tests
Approximately nine days to two weeks after implantation, a simple blood test to check for HCG levels will confirm the pregnancy. An ultrasound is done around the sixth week (and sometimes the twelfth week) of pregnancy to check for a heartbeat. After hearing a heartbeat, you may be released to your OBGYN for the remainder of your pregnancy.
Once in the trusted care of your chosen doctor, you will continue routine prenatal care and can choose the hospital for your delivery.
The surrogacy process may require multiple embryo transfers to achieve a successful pregnancy. Taking great care can make things go more smoothly and reach success sooner.
This article explains the gestational surrogacy process in general terms, but each fertility clinic and agency agreement is different, and procedures depend on whether fresh or previously harvested frozen eggs are used. Each medical procedure is necessary to ensure your health and the success of the surrogate pregnancy. Ask our professionals for clarification about our agency processes and any changes to requirements due to Covid.