How Does a Surrogate get Pregnant? [How IVF Works]

“How does a surrogate get pregnant?” might be one of the most commonly asked questions from first-time surrogates or their partners. In fact, the misconceptions surrounding this question are what often leads to the hesitation of the spouse or partner of the surrogate.

To get more information about how a surrogate becomes pregnant, reach out to a surrogacy professional today.

A surrogate’s partner might be under the impression that their wife will have to conceive the child with the intended father. This is certainly not the case. When it comes to gestational surrogacy, the surrogate will become pregnant through a process known as in-vitro fertilization.

In this article, we’ll talk more about the IVF process and answer your questions about how a surrogate mother gets pregnant.

Surrogate Pregnancy Requirements and Screening

Before answering the question “How does a surrogate get pregnant?”  you will first want to have an understanding of the requirements that every prospective surrogate must meet before she can move onto the legal and medical portion of the surrogacy process. These requirements include:

  • Within an age range of 21-38
  • BMI of 19-32
  • Currently raising a child
  • Previous pregnancies were free of complications
  • It’s been at least six months since your last birth
  • You must abstain from antidepressant medication for 12 months
  • And more

If you meet all the requirements, you will go through a screening process that includes a medical evaluation. This medical evaluation is to ensure that you are capable of safely and successfully carrying and giving birth to a baby.

How Does a Surrogate Become Pregnant?

Most people have a basic understanding that surrogacy involves the surrogate carrying the baby of an intended parent or parents, but don’t fully understand how the surrogacy process works.

“Does surrogacy involve intercourse?”

No. This is a common question people have when trying to understand how surrogacy works. It’s not uncommon for a surrogate’s partner or spouse to be opposed to their partner becoming a surrogate because they are under the impression that she will have to be intimate with the intended father. With modern gestational surrogacy, a surrogate mother will never be asked to conceive the child this way.

That leaves us with the question: “How do surrogates become pregnant?”

A surrogate pregnancy is achieved through a process known as in-vitro fertilization or IVF. The IVF process involves taking the egg from an intended mother or egg donor and fertilizing with the sperm of an intended father or a donor in a lab. IVF can be broken down into three steps:

  • Egg donation. A few eggs are extracted from an intended mother or an egg donor
  • Fertilization. The eggs are fertilized with an intended father’s sperm or a donor’s in a lab, creating embryos.
  • Embryo transfer. Leading up to the embryo transfer, the surrogate will be taking fertility drugs to prepare her body for the embryo transfer. Once an embryo has been created, it is then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus at the intended parents’ fertility clinic.

Here’s one surrogate’s account of her experience with the embryo transfer.

“They thawed out the embryo. We showed up that morning to the clinic. I had opted to do some acupuncture to help with the transfer,” said Codi about her embryo transfer experience. “They also gave me a small Valium. This allowed for the uterus to not contract while they did the transfer. You have to have a full bladder and then lay there for about an hour after the transfer. That was a little rough, but really manageable.”

Following the embryo transfer, you may be asked to rest for a few days, which sometimes means spending a few nights away from home (all travel expenses will be covered by the intended parents). Once a pregnancy has been confirmed, you will begin receiving your surrogacy compensation.

What if the Embryo Transfer Fails?

Now that you have an understanding of how surrogate mothers get pregnant, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of an embryo transfer failure.

Just as with traditional conception methods, there is a possibility that you may not become pregnant on the first attempt. In fact, for women under the age of 35, only about 55% become pregnant on the first embryo transfer. This percentage goes up with each cycle.

Before you begin the IVF process, you and the intended parents will sit down with your attorneys and draw up a contract that details the responsibilities, expectations, compensation, roles and how many IVF attempts everyone is comfortable with. This number rarely exceeds three. More than three attempts can be physically exhausting for the surrogate, financially draining for the intended parents and emotionally distressing for everyone.

How a Surrogacy Agency Can Help

When you work with a surrogacy agency, your surrogacy professional will be able to help you coordinate everything with the fertility clinic and any other medical professionals involved. Most surrogacy agencies have a network of fertility clinics they work with, so you can be sure that you are being referred to a reputable clinic.

Your surrogacy professional will be able to walk you through the IVF process and answer the question of “How do surrogates become pregnant?”and prepare you for what you can expect.

If you have more questions about the IVF process or are ready to begin your surrogacy journey today, contact a surrogacy professional to get the answers you need.

Male and Female couple smiling with surrogate mother
Is Surrogacy Right For Me?

Take our 2 minute quiz to find out

Get Started