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Pursuing a journey of surrogacy involves a thorough medical process that ensures the health and well-being of both the surrogate mother and the intended parents. Prior to the embryo transfer, there are a myriad of tests to be carried out and completed, to help pave the way for a successful pregnancy. This comprehensive guide will delve into the various medical procedures, blood tests, and screenings that make up the surrogacy process.

Understanding the Surrogate Medical Process

Once a surrogate candidate meets the necessary surrogacy requirements, she will then undergo a thorough initial screening to assess the physical and mental suitability for surrogacy. This involves an in-depth evaluation of medical history (including a pre-screening and reviewing medical records), lifestyle (consisting of a background check and interview), and mental health (determined by a psychological screening). After the surrogate passes the initial screenings, she is then matched with the intended parents, and will have an interview to see if their values and surrogacy expectations align. It’s always important to  prioritize the well-being of both the  surrogates and intended parents through a compassionate and supportive screening process, helping lay the foundation for a positive and safe surrogacy journey.

Medical Screening for Surrogates

Once a surrogate has been chosen by the intended parents and vice-versa, the next step before arriving at the embryo transfer involves an extensive medical screening. This includes a comprehensive review of the surrogate’s medical history, family history, and previous pregnancies. Blood tests play a crucial role in this phase and include an in-depth STI panel, as well as checking for other infectious diseases, genetic disorders, hormonal levels, and overall health. This screening is performed at a reproductive clinic, and along with the extensive blood work, it involves a physical, a pap-smear, and a detailed uterine evaluation which consists of a hysteroscopy, as well as a saline sonogram. 

This meticulous surrogate medical screening is essential in increasing the odds of safeguarding the physical well-being of both the surrogate and the developing baby. Through a detailed assessment of the surrogate’s medical history and comprehensive blood tests, potential health risks are identified and addressed proactively. This thorough screening process ensures that the surrogate’s health is in optimal condition, minimizing the chances of complications during the pregnancy and encouraging a safe environment and helping bring peace of mind for all parties involved.

Tests and Procedures Prior to Embryo Transfer

Once the surrogate is cleared by a medical screening, there are still steps that need to be taken in order to ensure uterine viability, and determine whether the surrogate can safely carry the pregnancy. Prior to the pivotal moment of the embryo transfer, a series of specific tests and procedures are performed in order to establish and support optimal conditions, as well as increase the chances of success. 

Hysteroscopy and Saline Sonogram

Before the surrogate is ready to undergo the embryo transfer, a hysteroscopy and saline sonogram must be performed, as they’re both vital procedures that help the reproductive endocrinologist and team assess the health and readiness of the surrogate’s uterus. These detailed examinations specifically offer a comprehensive view of the uterine cavity, ensuring its optimal condition for successful embryo implantation. 

A hysteroscopy involves the insertion of a thin, flexible tube equipped with a camera through the cervix, allowing for a detailed inspection of the uterine lining. Since the embryo must attach to the uterine lining for a successful implantation, making sure that it’s healthy and in optimal condition is essential. Complementing this, a saline sonogram is a procedure which uses ultrasound imaging that evaluates the uterine cavity, and meticulously checks for any abnormalities or potential obstacles – specifically helping to detect fibroids – using a uterine saline flush.

Both of these crucial tests not only serve to identify and address any pre-existing issues within the uterus, but also contribute significantly to the success and smooth transition into the subsequent embryo transfer, underlining the importance of thorough examinations prior to such a momentous procedure.

After completing both the hydroscopy and saline sonogram, a skilled medical team of reproductive endocrinologists carefully interprets these results in order to tailor the treatment plan to the needs of the surrogate, if necessary. 

Mock Cycle

A mock cycle, also known as a trial embryo transfer, is a strategic rehearsal of an embryo transfer that precedes the actual procedure itself. This simulated cycle involves mimicking the essential steps of the transfer without actually thawing and introducing the embryos. The surrogate undergoes a pre-planned protocol of hormonal medications, mirroring the conditions of a real embryo transfer. This allows the medical team to evaluate the surrogate’s response to the medications, track the forming of the uterine lining – essential for a successful embryo implantation – examine the uterine cavity, and lastly, practice the actual embryo transfer technique.

By conducting a mock cycle first, potential challenges and adjustments in the medication protocol can be identified, increasing the likelihood of a successful embryo transfer without having to risk precious embryos. This trial not only fine-tunes the medical approach in preparation for the real thing, but also provides valuable insights, contributing to the overall precision and success of the surrogacy process.

Pre-Embryo Transfer Bloodwork and Medications:

Before the surrogate is fully cleared to proceed with an embryo transfer, there are a few visits of pre-testing that are necessary to set a baseline, and track progress of the uterine lining and the effect of the medications. Estrogen is prescribed in order to grow the uterine lining, and once at the optimal stage, progesterone is administered to prep the lining for implantation. In order to see the progress of these hormonal medications, bloodwork must be taken a few times before the transfer. Additionally, transvaginal ultrasounds are performed in order to examine the essential building of the uterine lining. All of this crucial information helps the medical team adjust medications if needed, and ensure that the surrogate’s body is in the ideal state for embryo implantation.

The Embryo Transfer Procedure

The actual embryo transfer is a delicate procedure requiring precision and expert timing from the fertility specialist medical team. This typically occurs after the surrogate’s uterine lining is adequately prepared, and the embryos reach the optimal stage of development and are ready to be implanted, in what is known as a fresh transfer.

However, what is more commonplace and improves success rates significantly, is the preference of a frozen embryo transfer (FET). Most renowned reproductive centers often opt for an FET due to its increased success rates compared to fresh embryo transfers. This approach allows for precise timing, giving the medical team more control over the surrogate’s hormonal environment. With an FET, the embryos are carefully thawed, only once the surrogate’s hormone levels and uterine lining are in perfect range, ensuring optimal conditions for implantation. The medical team then carefully loads the selected embryo(s) into a thin, flexible catheter, which is then gently guided into the surrogate’s uterus. The goal is to place the embryo(s) in the prime location for successful implantation.

This preferred procedure not only enhances the chances of a successful pregnancy, but also aligns with the commitment of both the medical team and surrogacy professionals, who prioritize the well-being of both the surrogate and the intended parents, and are united in paving a happy journey towards parenthood.

Gestational Confirmation

After the embryo transfer, the surrogate undergoes thorough monitoring to confirm that the embryo has successfully implanted, resulting in a pregnancy. This involves tracking hormone levels through blood tests and conducting ultrasounds to ensure the success of the FET, and the early development of the embryo(s).

Surrogacy agencies place a strong emphasis on communication during this phase, ensuring that both the surrogate and the intended parents are kept well-informed about the progress of the pregnancy. Transparent communication during this early time encourages a sense of trust and shared excitement for all parties involved.

Six-Week Ultrasound

If the surrogate’s HCG levels were positive following the embryo transfer, then around six weeks into the pregnancy, a comprehensive ultrasound is performed to confirm and assess the viability of gestation. This visit is paramount in establishing the presence of a fetal heartbeat and checking on the overall health of the developing fetus. Additionally, the medical team closely monitors the surrogate’s health and provides ongoing support, addressing any questions or concerns. 

Depending on the protocol of the fertility clinic and the surrogate agency, another ultrasound is sometimes required around 12 weeks before the surrogate “graduates,” from the fertility clinic’s practice. Between the six and 12-week marks, the surrogate mother will continue with regular appointments to check hormone levels and ensure the pregnancy is still stable.

Prenatal Care

Once released into an OBGYN for monitoring, the surrogate will continue to receive prenatal care as in any other pregnancy, with possibly more frequent appointments in order to ensure the well-being of both the surrogate and the developing miracle baby. 

This includes regular check-ups, nutritional guidance, and emotional support to address any concerns or challenges that may arise during the pregnancy. As always, the surrogacy team is constantly within reach during this time to provide support, as well as maintain open communication between the surrogate and the intended parents. The actual pregnancy may be the longest period of the surrogate medical process, but it certainly is the most blessed and fulfilling one, and brings the intended parents one step closer to meeting their precious new baby. 

Choose a Successful Journey with Surrogacy by Faith

The thorough and detailed surrogacy journey involves a series of intricate medical procedures and screenings, all essential parts of ensuring a successful and healthy pregnancy. Surrogacy by Faith is a renowned surrogacy agency that is proud to employ former surrogates who intimately understand the intricacies of the surrogacy process. What sets us apart is our unparalleled commitment to communication, fair compensation, and unwavering Christian values that support both surrogates and intended parents unequivocally, from beginning to end.

The team at Surrogacy by Faith empathizes with the emotional and physical aspects of surrogacy, making sure to provide a supportive environment for both surrogates and intended parents to thrive. This deep understanding of the surrogacy journey positions Surrogacy by Faith as a trusted partner for anyone seeking to build their families through surrogacy.

Whether you’re a potential surrogate mother or an intended parent that’s ready to complete their family, fill out either a surrogate initial inquiry or an intended parent or parents initial inquiry in order to start the conversation. 

Choosing Surrogacy by Faith means entrusting a dedicated team that is guided by experience, compassion, and a shared commitment to building beautiful families through a combination of unparalleled expertise and aligned values.

Let us help you in bringing a precious baby into your waiting arms. 

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