Thanks to recent advances in modern medicine, assisted reproduction has become easier and more accessible than ever before. If you’re hoping to start a family but can’t conceive naturally, thankfully there are multiple options for you to choose from.
However, all these options might seem overwhelming. For instance, some intended parents might be asking themselves: Should I choose IVF or surrogacy? Strictly speaking, this isn’t the right question to be asking since they’re not mutually exclusive – if you choose one, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose the other. In fact, intended parents frequently use IVF and surrogacy in combination to help them build a family.
In this post, we’ll go over the differences between IVF and surrogacy, how they work, and how much they cost.
What’s The Difference Between IVF & Surrogacy?
This is a common question. Not everyone understands the differences between these two procedures, so let’s break each one down in detail to get a clearer understanding.
How Does IVF Work?
IVF stands for in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which the fertilization actually occurs outside the body. In fact, in vitro means “in glass” in Latin because the combination of egg and sperm actually occurs in a laboratory setting.
Since IVF occurs entirely outside the uterus, it’s most commonly used with gestational surrogacy or for couples who need fertility treatment.
In some cases, IVF may not be successful due to:
- Advanced age
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Genetic conditions
If you’re a hopeful parent looking into IVF, it’s important to know that the egg and sperm used in IVF can either come from you and your partner or from donors. Either way, modern medicine has given people multiple options when it comes to conceiving a child via IVF.
How Does Surrogacy Work?
Surrogacy means that a surrogate carries a pregnancy to term on behalf of intended parents. In other words, the legal mother of the child does not actually give birth – the surrogate does. Once the surrogate gives birth, the intended parents will take the child in as their own.
There are two basic forms of surrogacy:
- Traditional. The surrogate donates her own egg, meaning that she’s genetically related to the child.
- Gestational. The surrogate does not donate her own egg and is not genetically related to the child. Instead, an embryo is transplanted and the surrogate carries that pregnancy to term. This has become the dominant form of surrogacy.
Surrogacy usually includes a legal arrangement that covers every aspect of the process. This is crucial because state surrogacy laws vary, with certain states like California or Oregon viewed as surrogacy-friendly while others have more complex laws and statutes. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so there are lawyers who specialize in surrogacy law (also known as reproductive law). If you’d like to learn more details, make sure you check out our blog post How Does The Surrogacy Process Work?
So how do you differentiate IVF and surrogacy? IVF is the procedure that is needed when you use a surrogate, while you can go through IVF without using a surrogate. In that case, the embryo will get transferred into the biological mother’s womb.
What Is The IVF & Surrogacy Procedure?
Anyone who decides to use surrogacy to give birth to a biological baby has to go through an IVF procedure. So let’s review how this works.
The IVF Procedure
First you have to actually undergo IVF. The basic steps are:
- Preparing the body. This is usually done with medications that stimulate ovulation, help eggs mature, and prepare the mother’s womb.
- Determining if eggs are ready. It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks of medical preparation before the eggs can be retrieved. Doctors will use non-invasive procedures like an ultrasound and/or blood tests to determine the right time.
- Egg retrieval. The intended mother will be sedated and given pain medications as doctors actually remove the mature eggs. Multiple eggs can be retrieved, so you can try IVF multiple times after one retrieval procedure (also known as an IVF cycle).
- Sperm retrieval. Sperm can be given by the intended mother’s partner or by a sperm donor.
- Fertilization. This can either be done by mixing healthy sperm and mature eggs or injecting a single healthy sperm into a single mature egg.
The ultimate goal of IVF is to create a healthy, viable embryo to transfer into the surrogate’s womb.
The Surrogacy Procedure
Let’s break down the basic steps of surrogacy:
- Screening. A surrogate agency will typically screen potential surrogates and make sure they meet all requirements.
- Preparing for embryo transfer. If they meet all the requirements, the surrogate will undergo a series of treatments and medications to prepare her body for pregnancy.
- Embryo transfer. After the intended mother got a healthy, viable embryo via IVF, it will get implanted into the surrogate’s womb. This is usually done 3 to 5 days after egg retrieval,
- Rest. The surrogate should rest for 2 to 3 days after the embryo transfer.
- Confirm the pregnancy. Doctors will confirm the surrogate’s pregnancy and she’ll then go to regular medical appointments until birth.
If you’re considering becoming a surrogate, it’s important to know that this is a non-invasive procedure that’s usually painless and rarely requires any painkillers, sedatives, or anesthetics. The doctor simply inserts a catheter to transfer the embryo into your womb. This may cause some temporary discomfort, but it quickly passes.
Who Should Consider Using IVF & Surrogacy?
IVF and surrogacy can be an excellent option for anyone who’s:
- Has not been able to conceive naturally
- Had IVF or other forms of assisted reproduction that did not result in a pregnancy
- Suffering from medical conditions that affect your uterus and make it impossible to carry a pregnancy to completion.
- Not the ideal child-bearing age and can no longer conceive naturally.
- Had previous surgeries or a hysterectomy.
- Suffering from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or certain blood disorders that may result in a high-risk pregnancy.
How Much Do IVF & Surrogacy Cost?
This depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Where you’re located (some states are more expensive than others).
- The number of IVF cycles required.
- Any potential complications in the pregnancy.
- How much your surrogate will be paid.
However, if we look at the average, the combined cost of both IVF and surrogacy will be anywhere from $90k to $145k.
First of all, the average cost of one IVF “cycle” is between $10k and $15k, with the average being about $12k. The longer it takes to create a viable embryo, the more costly it will be. Additionally, if you decide to use donor eggs or sperm, that will increase your IVF costs.
Additionally, the average cost of surrogacy for intended parents is anywhere between $80k and $130k. This includes:
- Surrogate compensation
- Additional payment to the surrogate including travel, maternity clothes, lost wages, and medical care.
- Screening costs, including finding the right surrogate.
- Embryo transfer
- Medical costs
- Legal fees
Build Your Family With Surrogacy By Faith
If you want to use IVF and surrogacy to build a family, then you should strongly consider finding a surrogacy agency to work with. They’ll help you every step of the way, including screening candidate surrogates, working with lawyers to draft the surrogacy contract, and helping all parties navigate the surrogacy journey.
Surrogacy By Faith is a surrogacy agency that’s based in Irvine, California. Although we’re a Christian agency, we don’t only work with Christian surrogates or intended parents. In fact, we see it as our mission and guiding philosophy to help people from all walks of life, whether you want to give the gift of surrogacy and receive the gift of a new child.