Surrogacy Medications Explained
While much of your surrogate pregnancy will be very similar to your personal pregnancy, one of the big differences are the in vitro fertilization (IVF) medications you will have to take to prepare your body to receive – and carry – a pregnancy.
Why Do Surrogates Need to Take Medications for Pregnancy?
Because the pregnancy is not naturally conceived, surrogates take hormone supplements in order to prepare their uterus for an embryo. Surrogates are required to have medications in order to:
Coordinate the menstrual cycle of the surrogate to ensure her uterus is primed and ready to accept the embryo(s)
Prepare the surrogate’s uterus for pregnancy by providing two important hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Taken in sequence, these two hormones are meant to stimulate the surrogate’s natural cycle. This combination maximizes the chances of pregnancy and helps to prevent a miscarriage
What Hormones Are Administered With Surrogate Medications?
Your exact medical protocol can vary depending on your clinic and doctor. In general, here are the hormones you can expect to take during your surrogacy:
The combination of estrogen and progesterone is continued for approximately two weeks until the pregnancy test.
While the hormones are administered, weekly ultrasound examinations and blood tests are performed to ensure a proper response. Once pregnant, estrogen and progesterone are continued until the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy. At that point, the pregnancy produces its own hormones. Therefore, supplementation is no longer needed. This is also around the same time that you would be released to your selected OB/GYN for care during the pregnancy.
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 continued until a pregnancy is confirmed.
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.
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 medications used to prepare and support a surrogate for pregnancy are easy to take and have – if any – side effects. Occasionally, a bloated feeling and mild cramping is reported.
You may experience symptoms similar to those you would experience during your monthly cycle, such as mood swings. Your hormones will be changing and these changes in mood are normal, as they are during any pregnancy.
You may have heard the phrase “Shots! Shots! Shots!” when it comes to IVF and surrogacy. While protocols vary, you may have to inject yourself (or have a friend or your partner help) with hormones. While the injections may be a bit uncomfortable, our surrogates have shared that knowing what they are doing for another family made it all worth it.