How does IVF surrogacy work?


In vitro fertilization is the most advanced, effective fertility treatment used for intended parents of all kinds.

Gestational surrogacy, on the other hand, is the process of carrying a pregnancy for intended parents. As you weigh your fertility treatment options, it’s important to have a full understanding of what the IVF surrogacy process looks like. 

At PFCLA, we’ve proudly supported intended parents of all shapes and sizes as they proceed with IVF and surrogacy. Let’s start by understanding the process and timeline of surrogacy.

ivf surrogacy

How does gestational surrogacy work?

Simply put, the IVF process with gestational surrogacy includes fertilizing an egg with sperm in a laboratory, then transferred into your surrogate’s uterus in hopes that a pregnancy will result and she’ll carry the pregnancy to term. With gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no biological relationship to the baby. In almost all cases of gestational surrogacy, depending on state laws, the intended parents can establish parentage before birth. 

On the other hand, traditional surrogacy doesn't involve the IVF process. Instead, a traditional surrogate will be artificially inseminated with donor sperm or the intended father’s sperm. Because the surrogate uses her own egg, she is biologically related to the child. This genetic link brings more legal complexities and emotionally can be more complex as well.

Candidates for gestational surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy and IVF are two highly effective fertility treatments and can help: 

  • Intended mothers who struggle to carry a pregnancy to term
  • Intended mothers with the absence of a uterus by birth
  • Intended mothers who have had a hysterectomy
  • Intended mothers who haven’t seen success with traditional IVF 
  • Intended mothers who have medical conditions or require medications that are unsafe for pregnancy
  • Single fathers who wish to become dads 
  • Same-sex male couples and trans women who wish to build their families

Pursuing surrogacy is a highly personal decision, and one to be respected. Let your fertility doctor guide you to the best treatment for your unique scenario. 

The IVF timeline with a surrogate

Here’s what to expect if you pursue Gestational IVF surrogacy: 

  1. You’ll select your surrogate with your surrogacy agency. Your surrogate will be medically screened in person with your IVF clinic. Legal agreements are signed between the intended parents and the surrogate. These agreements include the compensation to be given to the surrogate as well as the surrogate signing over any parental rights over the resulting child.
  2. You, your surrogate, and potentially your egg donor will take fertility drugs and synchronize your cycles for a fresh cycle, or you will create embryos and freeze them to be transferred to your surrogate at a later date.
  3. Once the intended mother or donor’s eggs are ready, the egg retrieval will occur and the embryos will be created in a laboratory. 
  4. Your fertility clinic will transfer the newly created embryo(s) into your surrogate’s uterus during an embryo transfer. 
  5. Two weeks later, your surrogate will take a blood pregnancy test to check for successful implantation. 
  6. If there was no implantation, you can opt for a second embryo transfer. If the embryo transfer was successful, congratulations! Your IVF clinic will monitor your surrogate until 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and then she’ll begin going to her OB.
  7. Your surrogate will continue to visit her OB during the second and third trimester until she delivers the baby. After she gives birth, you can finally bring your baby into your loving home.

surrogacy with ivf

Some families may choose to stay in touch with their surrogate, although there is no legal obligation to do so unless you have agreed to specific terms in your contract such as milestone updates. But do remember that the gift your surrogate has given you is an amazing one and you should treat her with the appropriate respect and appreciation.

Finding your perfect surrogate 

To start looking for your surrogate, it’s important to understand the full scope of gestational surrogacy and fertility treatments. Learn more about IVF and surrogacy, how to finance your fertility treatments, and about the surrogate matching process.

When you’re ready, apply for a surrogate and get in touch with PFCLA.

Note: This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided is for general educational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. Speak to your doctor directly with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any information contained herein does not replace any care plan as determined by a physician. 

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