At Surrogate Parenting Services, we help our clients fulfill their dreams—whether that means growing their own family or helping another family in a very special way. 

Aside from an amazing team of professionals—and lots of love—an integral part of making these dreams come true is in vitro fertilization (IVF). 

First introduced in the 1970s, IVF is the most advanced and effective fertility treatment available today. According to a 2017 report by the U.S. Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, over one million babies have been born in the U.S. using IVF and similar procedures!

But what is IVF exactly? And how does IVF work with surrogacy? Read on to learn more about this treatment and how it can help complete your family. 

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a complex series of procedures in which eggs and sperm are combined in a laboratory to create an embryo (or embryos). 

During these procedures, mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and sperm is added to the egg. Then, the fertilized egg (or eggs), now an embryo (or embryos), is transferred to a uterus. Pregnancy occurs if any of the embryos implant into the wall of the uterus.  

What is the IVF process?

  1. First, the biological mother (or an anonymous donor) takes fertility medications to produce multiple mature eggs that are ready for fertilization.
  2. The next step is egg retrieval. In this procedure, the doctor collects the mature eggs from the woman, often through a process called transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. First, the woman is sedated and given pain medication. An ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina to identify follicles; then, the doctor inserts a thin needle into an ultrasound guide, which goes into the follicles and retrieves the eggs. This process takes about 15–20 minutes.
  3. Sperm is collected from the partner (or a donor) and the eggs are fertilized in a lab. To fertilize the egg, the sperm is either injected into the egg or mixed with the egg in a petri dish.
  4. The embryo grows in the lab for two to five days, and then the embryo or embryos are transferred back to the biological mother or to a surrogate mother at a doctor’s office or fertility clinic. During egg transfer, the doctor inserts a catheter into the vagina, which then goes through the cervix and into the uterus. There is a syringe at the end of the catheter which contains one or more embryos in a small amount of fluid. Using the syringe, the doctor inserts the embryo or embryos into the uterus.
  5. If this process was successful, an embryo will implant in the lining of the uterus around 6–10 days after the eggs were retrieved.

How much does IVF cost?

The cost of IVF depends on your state of residence and your insurance plan. Several states (including California) have laws that require insurance companies to either offer or cover infertility diagnosis and treatment.  

The fees for one cycle of IVF include medicines, ultrasounds, blood work, lab tests, anesthesia, procedures, and embryo storage, and can cost up to $15,000 and more. 

What are the side effects of IVF? 

As with many medications and medical procedures, IVF comes with some potential risks and side effects. These include:

  • Mild soreness and bruising at the injection site
  • Headaches
  • Mild cramping
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Mild bloating
  • Constipation
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood swings
  • Allergic reaction to medicines
  • Menstrual spotting or bleeding
  • Infection

Your doctor can discuss any questions or concerns you have about IVF risks and side effects. 

How successful is IVF?

The success rate of IVF depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Reproductive history, such as previous pregnancies, miscarriages, and births 
  • Age of recipient 
  • Type of fertility issue
  • Quality of eggs and embryos
  • Sperm quality
  • Quality of the embryo transfer process 
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COH) Protocol (the types of fertility medication administered and the schedule by which they’re delivered) 
  • Uterine receptivity
  • Lifestyle issues such as smoking, drinking, and weight 

How does IVF surrogacy work?

Some intended parents use IVF and gestational surrogacy to conceive a child. Gestational surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy today. 

In gestational surrogacy, an egg (or eggs) are retrieved from the biological mother or an egg donor, fertilized with sperm from the father or a sperm donor, and the embryo (or embryos) are implanted in the uterus of the surrogate (often called the gestational carrier), who carries the baby on behalf of the intended parent(s). The surrogate has no genetic relationship with the baby because it wasn’t her egg that was used during the IVF cycle. 

For heterosexual couples opting for IVF surrogacy, embryos are usually created using the eggs and sperm of the intended parents, but egg or sperm donors can also be used. 

Single women may use their own eggs and her intended partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm to become pregnant; this is called traditional surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, the woman is artificially inseminated through intrauterine insemination (IUI).  

Gestational surrogacy and IVF is also a popular way for members of the LGBTQ+ community to complete their families. The process is largely the same for all intended parents, but LGBTQ+ intended parents must decide which (if either) partner is genetically related to the child, and whether they will use a known or anonymous egg or sperm donor. 

We hope this article shed some light on IVF and surrogacy for you! 

Learn More About Becoming a Surrogate with Surrogate Parenting Services 

Surrogate Parenting Services is proud to celebrate 30 Years of helping to bring dreams to life! Founded in 1990, Surrogate Parenting Services (SPS) is a full-service surrogacy program that offers both parties an exceptionally supportive environment throughout the surrogacy relationship. We’re passionate about creating ideal matches between surrogates and intended parents, so the journey is fulfilling for both sides and the future child is brought into this world in the best possible circumstances.   

Learn more about our Surrogacy Program online or by calling (949) 363-9525.