In honor of “Embrace Your Geekness Day,” which is a legit July observance (believe it or not), we’ve decided to dedicate this surrogacy blog to geeks everywhere. If you’re the type who loves oddball facts and assimilate information at breakneck speeds, use the info on this page to momentarily quell your thirst for knowledge or stash away some of the lesser-known tidbits as conversation starters to dazzle your friends.
There’s a Difference Between Traditional Surrogacy and Modern Surrogacy
Historically, a surrogate was the biological mother to the child she carried. Doctors would use various forms of artificial insemination to introduce sperm into the uterus, hoping it would make its way to her egg. Most laws are designed around this and require that the woman carrying the baby sign away her rights after the baby is born. Modern surrogacy (aka gestational surrogacy) is different. In vitro fertilization is used, meaning the sperm is introduced into the egg outside the womb. Because of this, babies are typically unrelated to the surrogate. An egg from a donor or the intended mother may be used instead.
Using More Eggs Does Not Increase the Odds of a Viable Pregnancy
When sperm fertilizes an egg, it’s then referred to as an embryo. During the IVF process, embryos are monitored for several days after fertilization. Not every embryo develops well, but those which are on track have two-to-four cells by the second day or six-to-eight cells by the third day. By the fifth or sixth day, it should have 75-100 cells, split between two distinct cell types. At this point, it’s referred to the blastocyst stage, and it’s when the embryo would naturally embed itself in the uterine wall. During IVF, it’s when the embryo is transferred to the surrogate.
For many years, doctors and patients alike thought they were increasing the chances of having a healthy pregnancy by transferring more embryos, but newer research suggests this isn’t true at all. The chances of having at least one embryo become a healthy baby don’t increase when more are transferred. However, the chances of having multiple babies does.
Surrogacy Success Rates Aren’t Much Different from Natural Pregnancies
Many intended parents worry about surrogacy success rates and fear that IVF has a lower success rate than a pregnancy which begins the “old-fashioned” way. The major difference here is that many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant in the early stages, even if they’re trying to conceive. A whole lot happens in the first few days, so an embryo may fail to develop or fail to embed. In these cases, the woman’s cycle will generally continue as if she was never pregnant at all and she may never even have a positive pregnancy test. With IVF, all this is monitored, so doctors can identify when an embryo was created and at which point a pregnancy faced issues- even if it is incredibly early in the pregnancy. Because of this, we have almost no data on early “natural” pregnancies, but there’s a whole lot of data about IVF pregnancies. In either case, once the embryo implants, there’s about a 95% chance a healthy pregnancy and delivery of a baby will commence. There are many factors which determine success rates of surrogacy, such as the age of the egg donor and health of the embryo. A handful of choosy clinics boast success rates of over 80%.
It’s Hard to Become a Surrogate
The media would have you believe that virtually any woman can become a surrogate, and perhaps in theory this is true if parents are choosing a surrogate alone. However, quality surrogacy agencies have very low acceptance rates for surrogates. Agencies like EDSI look into the woman’s physical health, financial situation, and mental health before making a determination. She has to clear a number of checks, including a visit with a fertility specialist and a psychologist, before she’s allowed to carry a baby. While this unfortunately means many women who would love to help intended parents simply don’t meet the criteria, it does ensure better pairings, a smoother process, and healthier babies.
Learn More About Surrogacy
If you’re a woman considering becoming a surrogate, please review our information for surrogate mothers to see if you may qualify. Those hoping to grow their families with the help of a surrogate can view our information for intended parents or 213-423-7997 to get started.