Easy Conceptions Don’t Always Mean Surrogate Success

erinpic1Plenty of women considering surrogacy assume that having the ability to conceive easily on their own is a surrogate mother prerequisite. In fact, many women desiring to become surrogates tell us their ease of conception is one of the reasons they feel most confident in their ability to conceive as a surrogate. While it can be helpful if a woman was able to easily conceive her own children, it is not necessarily an indication that her body will lend itself well to surrogacy.

Gestational surrogacies are achieved by the use of In Vitro Fertilization. This is a process in which, for gestational surrogacy, an egg is retrieved from either the mother or an egg donor, fertilized with sperm from the father outside of the body, and then placed back into the waiting uterus of a second woman – the gestational carrier.

For this reason it is important that the carrier’s uterus be primed and ideal to receive the embryo without ovulating an egg on its own. This process requires medical intervention to thicken the uterine walls and suppress the ovaries at the same time.

Sometimes, for any number of reasons, an otherwise fertile woman may not respond well to the medications required to thicken the uterine lining or may continue to ovulate despite her medications. Both of these outcomes can lead to cancelled embryo transfers.

This news can be confusing and heartbreaking at the same time. Most commonly a doctor will try an alternate treatment method to try for better results. In rare instances some IVF doctors may even opt to try a medicine free cycle to see if the body is able to produce ideal results without medical intervention.

Occasionally, if the uterine lining is not able to reach optimum thickness or if ovaries are not able to be suppressed, a woman who has had no previous complications attaining a pregnancy may find that she is not an ideal candidate for surrogacy. Despite this, the same woman could easily conceive her own child without any medical intervention.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.