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Surrogacy IVF Medication: What You Should Know

Baby onesies surrounded by a heart made of syringes

If you qualify to become a surrogate, chances are you have not experienced an IVF pregnancy and may not realize how this differs emotionally and physiologically from a personal pregnancy. Many medical details surround the process, and different surrogacy/IVF medications will need to be taken throughout the course of the pregnancy. Below, we outline what medications a surrogate can expect during her journey.

What the IVF Process Looks Like for a Surrogate

A surrogate is required to take medications—hormone supplementations—to prepare her body for a pregnancy since she is not conceiving naturally. Gestational surrogacy involves a process known as in vitro fertilization (IVF). First, eggs are harvested from the intended parent or an egg donor. The eggs are then fertilized in the laboratory with the intended father’s sperm (or donor sperm) to create embryos. When the time is right, an embryo will be placed in the uterus of the gestational surrogate.

What Are the Medications a Surrogate Must Take?

Gestational surrogates are required to take medications to prepare their bodies for their surrogate pregnancy. As a surrogate, you will meet with your intended parents’ clinic to learn about the medications and protocol prior to beginning. The clinic staff will educate you on what the medications are and how to administer them and provide you with a calendar to follow.

Why Do Surrogates Take Medications?

You will be required to take medications in order to:

  • Coordinate your menstrual cycle so your uterus is primed and ready to accept the embryo(s).

  • Prepare your uterus for pregnancy by providing two important hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Taken in sequence, these two hormones are meant to simulate your natural cycle. This combination maximizes the chances of pregnancy and helps to prevent a miscarriage.

Pregnant model stands in a medical office and smiles, resting her hand on her rounded abdomen.

What Hormones Are Needed for a Surrogate Pregnancy?

Hormones administered during the surrogacy process may include:

  • Estrogen: Estrogen is a hormone naturally produced by the ovary during the natural ovarian cycle. Estrogen thickens and builds the uterine lining. Estrogen is generally administered by mouth two or three times a week. It is taken from the beginning of the cycle and continues until a pregnancy is confirmed.

  • Progesterone: Once the uterine lining reaches its critical thickness, a second hormone is added: progesterone. Progesterone makes the uterus receptive by inducing it to produce the proper nutrients to support the embryo. Progesterone is usually administered vaginally in the form of a vaginal insert or cream.

  • Lupron: An injectable drug is occasionally administered in addition to estrogen and progesterone. Lupron prevents the surrogate's cycle from "kicking in" at the wrong time. The injection is usually self-administered.

The combination of estrogen and progesterone is continued after the embryo transfer for approximately two weeks until the official pregnancy test.

What To Expect During and After Medications

While you are administering your hormones, you will attend weekly ultrasound examinations and blood tests to ensure your body is responding properly to the medications.

Once you are confirmed pregnant (approximately two weeks after your embryo transfer), you will continue the estrogen and progesterone until the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy. After this point, the pregnancy will produce its own hormones and supplementation is no longer needed—and you can celebrate the end of your medications!

Are There Side Effects to These Medications?

The medications used to prepare and support you for pregnancy are easy to take and have few—if any —side effects. Occasionally, surrogates report feeling bloated and having mild cramping, but it's nothing you can’t handle!

Additional Medications and Lifestyle Changes

In order to provide the growing baby with the best environment, you can consider lifestyle adjustments in addition to your regular routine including:

  • Diet and Exercise: A healthy, balanced diet is extremely important. If in doubt, consult the nutritionist at your obstetrician’s office for advice. Mild to moderate exercise is also highly recommended.

  • Prenatal Vitamins: Over-the-counter prenatal vitamin preparation packets provide a complete combination of vitamins required for the healthy growth of a baby. The vitamins should be started prior to the pregnancy and continued throughout.

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A clear understanding of the surrogacy process, as well as the medications required for a successful outcome, is extremely important. The medications are necessary, easy to take, and provide you with the best chance of having a successful pregnancy.

To learn more about becoming a surrogate, you can visit the surrogate page on our website or see if you meet surrogate requirements. If you’re ready to apply, you can click here.


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