Surrogacy or surrogate motherhood is a fertility treatment. As such, it must be conducted at a fertility clinic. Choosing the most adequate one is a part of the process that takes place prior to starting the treatment.
Actually, surrogacy is a type of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), hence the common name IVF Surrogacy. The difference with classical IVF is that the resulting embryo or embryos are transferred to the uterus of the gestational surrogate instead of the intended mother's.
Choosing a fertility clinic to work with in a surrogacy arrangement is not an easy task. For this reason, we have created a list of tips and factors to consider to make the right decision.
The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.
A medical facility must have been recognized as such, and you have the right to ask them for the accreditation they posses. This will guarantee that their facilities meet the quality standards required. Getting information about audits and certificates of quality is important as well.
Also, asking them for the data protection policies they apply is crucial. The traceability of IVF labs is a key aspect to consider when choosing a fertility clinic in all cases. In short, gathering these data is essential as proof of their professionalism.
When it comes to choosing a fertility clinic to carry out a surrogacy process, one should check if they have their own laboratory, and the fertility treatments they use. Oftentimes, intended parents see almost no difference between clinics, but the truth is that each one follows different protocols and uses a varied range of techniques.
For example, while some clinics use Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) in all IVF procedures, others prefer to use classical IVF as long as possible. Also, we can find specialists that prefer not to manipulate the gametes and embryos unless strictly necessary, while others recommend PGD/PGS (genetic screening of embryos) indiscriminately.
Another factor to take into consideration is the use of donor gametes, that is, donor eggs or sperm. Each center applies different protocols when dealing with donor-assisted reproduction. Some work with an external egg/sperm bank, whilst others have their own bank.
In general, waiting lists are shorter when clinics work with external banks because they usually have a larger pool of donors ready to be matched with a recipient. But this also translates into an increase of the overall costs.
Last but not least, it's important that you ask them for the additional techniques and treatments that they perform. Sometimes, adding a complementary technique that was not considered at the beginning is necessary to increase the success rates.
See this for more: Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) – Techniques Used in Surrogacy.
Team of professionals
The renown and prestige of the doctor is important, but one should not forget that a surrogacy arrangement requires teamwork to succeed. Aside from the doctor, as an intended parent you will be in touch with lab, nursing, and administration staff. For this reason, close communication and trust are key.
Fertility care, and especially surrogacy, are challenging fields that typically raise many doubts before, during, and even after the process. Working with a team that is available to answer all our questions and queries is essential. In this sense, the language or languages spoken and the translation services included should be considered as well.
Surrogacy clinics typically assign a case manager to each intended parent. He or she will be responsible for keeping you up-to-date during the process.
Reliability and safety offered by the medical team and clinic staff is a key aspect. All in all, feeling comfortable with them will contribute to the overall success of the process.
When we talk about the facilities of a particular fertility clinic, we are not making reference to the ornaments or the reception desk, but to the laboratory, rooms, operating theater, etc.
Based on the aforementioned, the most important is that you feel comfortable with them. However, you should check whether the laboratory meets all the requirements established for dealing with human gametes and embryos. Cleanliness, pressure, light, temperature, working environment, organization... are essential factors to bear in mind.
Oftentimes, commissioning parents and IVF patients in general tend to become obsessed with success rates of fertility clinics. For this reason, we consider important to remark that one should learn the different types of success rates that can be evaluated before comparing between clinics.
As long as we are referring to any of the following rates, we can use the term success rate:
- Fertilization rates
- Transfer rates
- Implantation rates
- Pregnancy rates
- Birth rates
- Live birth rates
Obviously, there exist many differences between these types of rates, and it is only normal that the fertilization rates are always higher than the live birth rates. This is precisely the reason why you should ask to which rate are they making reference to when they talk about success rates.
Whether you are undergoing surrogacy in your home country or have opted for surrogacy overseas, you should consider the location of the clinic before making a decision. It should be easily accessible by different means of transport or, if not, offer concierge services to their patients.
Keep in mind that the location of the clinic concerns the surrogate as well. The goal of every surrogacy arrangement is to make the process as easy as possible for her, too.
These are the minimum visits that you have to make to the clinic throughout the surrogacy process:
- Medical screening: Intended parents, surrogate, and donors should go through this process.
- Ovarian stimulation: Including about 3 to 5 follow-up visits. This step involves the intended mother or egg donor, if needed, only.
- Sperm sample: This part of the process requires the intended father or sperm donor, if needed, to visit the clinic to collect the sperm sample.
- Egg retrieval: The eggs that will be used will be collected from the intended mother or the egg donor.
- Embryo transfer: The resulting embryos are transferred to the womb of the gestational surrogate. Intended parents can choose to stay or not during this process.
- Pregnancy test: The gestational carrier has to visit the clinic 15 days post embryo transfer to undergo a blood test that will measure her levels of hCG in the body, in case embryo implantation has taken place.
- Fetal ultrasounds: They will be performed throughout the 9 months of pregnancy.
When you consider the overall costs of the treatments, you should add the cost of the medications and the financial compensation to the donor(s).
Also, you should evaluate carefully what's included in the quote you receive: visits, anesthesia, surgical procedures, fertility evaluation, etc.
On the other hand, in case there are leftover embryos once the treatment is finished, ask them if cryopreservation and storage is included or not. Typically, annual storage is not included.
Surrogacy is the most challenging of all fertility treatments. For this reason, it's crucial that you rely on well-versed professionals. If you are looking for trustworthy agencies, this tool will show you destination countries where your family type is permitted, and provide you with a detailed cost estimate. Moreover, our specialists will evaluate your case in particular in order to recommend you those clinics that best fit your needs, and meet our rigorous selection criteria. We have 10 years' experience behind us.
FAQs from users
How much does price vary from clinic to clinic?
Broadly speaking, the cost of fertility treatments doesn't vary too much between clinics in a particular country, but sometimes huge variations can be found. For this reason, we recommend that you visit more than one before making a decision.
You should consider the possibility that potential mishaps and unforeseen events occur, with the subsequent increase of the total cost.
Who is responsible for providing health care for the surrogate?
Depending on the case, the clinic may take responsibility for all the health care required for the surrogate, or she may have to combine it with visits to the hospital.
In general, clinics are responsible for carrying out the fertility technique required and their role ends when a pregnancy is achieved. But there are clinics that do a follow-up of the pregnancy as well.
Do all fertility clinics offer concierge services to intended parents?
No, not all clinics offer this additional service. In fact, in the case of international patients, it is a decisive aspect to consider when choosing a clinic to work with in a foreign country.
Is the fertility clinic in charge of selecting an egg donor?
Actually, most surrogacy agencies offer donor matching services, too. So, this step is usually carried out by the agency instead of the clinic, but it depends on each clinic. If your clinic has their own egg bank, it's likely that they do this job as well.
Suggested for you
Aside from the fertility clinic, one should work with a surrogacy agency from the beginning. It is one of the key steps to follow in a surrogacy process. Learn more: Guide to the Surrogacy Process – The 7 Steps of Surrogacy.
Once you have chosen a clinic and agency, you should look for other professionals that play a majo role in the process as well. We are talking about attorneys and escrow managers. Get more info: Professionals Involved in Surrogacy – Agencies, Attorneys & Clinics.
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