IVF again and again
Women starting out with fertility treatment are often optimistic about the chances of IVF success. However, for many, the procedure is unfortunately not effective. This is especially true if a woman is older, has underlying health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or an unknown infertility diagnosis. Although each case is unique, and there are no set guidelines for when a woman has to move on to surrogacy, most couples usually attempt IVF 3-4 times before considering other options to grow a family.
Types of surrogacy
Once a woman decides to move forward with surrogacy, 2 options are typically available. Traditional surrogacy means the surrogate supplies the egg and carries the baby. A close family member will often serve as the surrogate, so a genetic link is present. A gestational surrogate is a woman who carries a baby created by the intended parents. This means the mom-to-be will need to undergo an ART procedure again to retrieve eggs that will be combined with the partner’s sperm. This approach is best for women who have a good egg count but trouble with implantation or the ability to stay pregnant when undergoing previous IVF procedures. A donor egg can also be used if the woman has low egg count or quality.
How does surrogacy work?
Much like IVF, the early stages of surrogacy are performed in a lab. Regardless of whether the intended mother’s eggs or the surrogate’s eggs are used, a retrieval must occur. The egg will then be combined with the male partner’s or donor’s sperm to create an embryo. Once the embryo is a few days old, the fertility doctor will coordinate with the surrogate to come into the office for a transfer. The embryo is placed in the surrogate’s uterus with a catheter, and in less than 2 weeks, a pregnancy test can be performed.
Legal and emotional concerns
For women who have desired the experience of pregnancy for years and years, switching to a surrogate can be emotionally challenging. This is especially true if the plan is to use donor eggs from a surrogate or an anonymous donor. However, with the right mindset, many women are happy with the decision to use a surrogate, as the final product is a much-desired baby. A lawyer is usually involved in the process to protect the parental rights of the intended parents.
Bringing home baby
Giving up on IVF can be stressful, but surrogacy is a great next option for many couples. If a patient has had more than 3 unsuccessful rounds of IVF, consider speaking with a fertility specialist about next steps, which could include using a surrogate.