Which Protocol Will Work Best for Me, IVF vs Surrogacy
When looking at infertility treatment options you need to take into account the reason you need fertility assistance before making the decision to try IVF first or go straight to surrogacy. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is based on the premise that the intended mother can carry a child to term but is having trouble getting and/or staying pregnant. This problem can be caused by any number of medical problems, with one or both intended parents, but is often caused by ovulation issues with the woman.
IVF is an infertility treatment that takes over the process of ovulation and regulates it. Depending on the cause of the ovulation issues, different medications are given to force follicles to grow. Since several follicles are growing at the same time, and most contain oocytes, so when the follicles are retrieved there are multiple oocytes to work with. When the healthiest and most mature oocytes are mixed with strong, healthy sperm approximately 70% fertilize. Out of these embryos, the embryologist will pick the ones that look the best and those are the ones available for implanting. Once the embryos are implanted you’re pregnant and have overcome most of the fertility hurdles faced by women with ovulation problems. Staying pregnant is another part of the puzzle. Immediately after egg retrieval, women undergoing IVF start taking progesterone therapy to build up the uterine lining, facilitate implantation, and help stop miscarriage. At this point you have a normal pregnancy going.
Surrogacy is for women who cannot carry a child to term, even if they can get pregnant with the assistance of IVF. This doesn’t just mean women who have no uterus or an abnormal uterus; it can also mean women who have a condition or disease that makes it difficult to carry a pregnancy to term. Often after a severe illness, like cancer, a woman finds she can’t sustain a pregnancy. Also, women who get pregnant but have multiple miscarriages. They are good candidates because they probably have viable eggs, since they were able to get pregnant, but something prevents them from carrying to term. This is when surrogacy can be a blessing.
Most surrogacy agencies primarily use gestational surrogates, women who carry a baby they have no genetic connection to, instead of the traditional surrogates who use their own egg and the sperm of the intended father to create the embryo. In gestational surrogacy, if the intended mother can’t produce an egg that is viable then a donor egg can be used. This way, the intended parents can pick an egg from a donor who looks like the mother, and then use a surrogate that the surrogacy agency matches them with instead of searching for a surrogate that looks like the mother. The surrogate undergoes IVF to become pregnant and then carries the baby to term for the intended parents. At birth the intended parents are usually recorded on the birth certificate as the parents. The surrogacy agency generally arranges it all in advance so there are no problems right after the birth.
Only the woman, and her doctor, can decide what course of infertility treatment is right for her. Many women will try IVF, even if the odds aren’t in their favor, before moving on to surrogacy because it’s faster and they can exercise more control over the process. In the end, when you’re holding your beautiful baby in your arms, it really doesn’t make much difference how he got there. You’re a parent, your dream of family has come true.