Understanding IVF Surrogacy

Deciding to move from infertility to IVF surrogacy is not an easy decision for most intended parents. This is understandable, given that many intended parents have usually spent years trying to conceive without success. So, what options are left to them after failed IVF? One option might be surrogacy; another is egg/sperm donation.

Sometimes, surrogacy might be the last chance for the intended parents to have their own biological baby. Nevertheless, many IPs usually feel terrified by the thought of another woman carrying their baby. They may also question whether surrogacy is the right choice for them and their families. In any case, the intended parents should learn as much as possible about the surrogacy process

Let’s explore IVF a Surrogacy in more detail:

What Is IVF?

This is an assisted reproductive technology that involves two basic steps:

  1. creating an embryo by fertilizing an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish and
  2. transferring the resultant embryo to a uterus.

In gestational surrogacy, this embryo will be transferred to the uterus of the gestational surrogate, who will then carry the baby until birth.

What Is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a form of assisted reproductive technology involving a woman (a surrogate) carrying the intended parents’ baby through pregnancy (“intended parents” can mean a couple or an individual.).

In addition, when discussing surrogacy, it is vital to understand its two primary forms: traditional and gestational surrogacy.

In Traditional Surrogacy, the woman carrying the fetus also provides the egg, often fertilized via Artificial Insemination (AI) using sperm from an intended parent or a sperm donor. Also, it should be noted that the traditional surrogate is genetically linked to the baby because she provides the egg for fertilization.

On the other hand, gestational surrogacy results from in vitro fertilization (IVF). The gestational surrogate has no genetic connection with the baby as she does not provide the egg. Instead, the egg comes from an egg donor or the intended mother. The egg is fertilized by the sperm of the intended father or a donor through in vitro fertilization and then transferred to the gestational carrier.


What Is the Difference between Surrogacy and IVF? 

In vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy are two methods used to help individuals or couples have children when natural conception is not possible or advisable. While an IVF procedure can be part of a surrogacy process, they are not the same. 

Here are the key differences between IVF and surrogacy:

  1. Process:
    • IVF involves fertilizing an egg with sperm in a laboratory and implanting the embryo into the intended mother or a gestational carrier.
    • Surrogacy is when a woman (surrogate) carries and delivers a baby for others (intended parents).

2. Genetic Connection:

    • In IVF, the intended mother’s egg is typically used, so there is a genetic connection between her and the child.
    • In surrogacy, the child may or may not be genetically related to the surrogate but to the intended parents or donors.

3. Cost:

    • IVF costs include fertility treatments, medications, and the IVF procedure.
    • Surrogacy is generally more expensive due to surrogate compensation, legal fees, and medical expenses.

What is IVF Surrogacy? 

IVF surrogacy is often referred to as gestational surrogacy through IVF. It is an assisted reproduction method involving in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques, and surrogacy to help individuals or couples become parents. This process allows intended parents to have a child when they cannot do so naturally. Here’s how IVF surrogacy works:

The IVF Surrogacy Process: What to Expect

The IVF process starts with the intended mother or egg donor taking medications to stimulate egg growth. Doctors then retrieve the eggs and fertilize them with sperm from the intended father or sperm donor. One of the resulting embryos will then be transferred to the surrogate, taking prescribed medications to prepare her endometrium for implantation.

This is the process in a nutshell. The actual process looks more like this:

  • The surrogate completes medical and psychological screening to see if she has any conditions that may affect the fetus should the process be successful.
  • The intended parents and the surrogate sign a consent form. The form will include all details related to the process.
  • The intended mother (or the egg donor) is placed on fertility medications to stimulate egg production.
  • The eggs will be retrieved through a surgical procedure. (Multiple eggs will be retrieved because some may not be suitable for fertilization.)
  • The intended parents will also be asked to provide the sperm, which will be used to fertilize the eggs.
  • The eggs are fertilized using a lab dish.
  • Depending on the kind of cycle completed, the embryos will either be transferred to the gestational carrier after 3 or 5 days following the IVF process (Fresh Cycle) or be placed in frozen storage for transfer at a later time (Frozen Cycle).
  • Before the transfer, a Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) may be performed.
  • The pregnancy will be carried to full term if the process is successful.

IVF Surrogacy

Fresh and Frozen Embryo Transfer

As noted above, there are two types of embryo transfers in IVF surrogacy:

  • Fresh Embryo Transfer: The embryo transfer is usually performed three or five days after the retrieval.
  • Frozen Embryo Transfer: The previously created embryo is thawed and then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus.

Fresh cycles are more complex than frozen cycles because the surrogate must synchronize her cycle with the woman providing the eggs.

Some fertility clinics prefer frozen embryo transfers because they are easier to work with. Also, using FET transfers allows clinics to focus on the surrogate’s fertility treatment and preparation, which can increase the chances of pregnancy.

What Is the Cost of IVF Surrogacy?

Understanding the expenses associated with surrogacy is crucial for prospective parents considering this option. The IVF surrogacy cost can vary significantly, depending on various factors. Here’s a breakdown of the main financial considerations:

1. Medical Procedures: The IVF procedure, involving ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, fertilization, and embryo transfer, typically ranges from $10,000 to $20,000.

2. Surrogate Compensation: Surrogates are remunerated for their time and efforts. Compensation often falls between $30,000 and $40,000 or more.

3. Legal Fees: A surrogacy lawyer is needed to draft a surrogacy agreement. Legal fees can amount to several thousand dollars.

4. Agency Fees: If working with a surrogacy agency, expect fees for matching intended parents and surrogates, support, and administrative tasks, ranging from $15,000 to $20,000.

5. Psychological Support: Some parties seek counseling services to navigate the emotional complexities of surrogacy.

6. Insurance: Ensuring proper medical insurance coverage for the surrogate and child is essential.

7. Contingency Funds: Reserve funds for unexpected expenses or complications that may arise during the surrogacy journey.

These approximate figures can fluctuate depending on your individual situation and location. 

Reasons to Consider IVF Surrogacy

There are many reasons why intended parents may turn to IVF surrogacy:

  • No success with Artificial Insemination or In Vitro Fertilization techniques.
  • Medical problems or illnesses that affect the health of the uterus or prostate.
  • Previous surgeries or hysterectomy.
  • Conditions that prevent pregnancy or make pregnancy high-risk.
  • Same-sex couples.
  • The cause of infertility has not been determined.
  • The intended mother’s age.

Wrapping Up

Starting a surrogacy journey isn’t easy, especially when you have already tried other fertility options. It is crucial to thoroughly research the process, legal rules, and medical steps before choosing surrogacy.

IVF surrogacy offers hope to individuals and couples dreaming of parenthood. This dream is achievable with advanced medical procedures, robust support systems, and clear legal guidelines. As you embark on this journey, remember the benefits and key considerations, and get ready to welcome a new addition to your family.


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Written by David
I work daily to make surrogacy available to as many intended parents, surrogate mothers and egg donors around the world as possible.

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