Statistics show that as many as one in every eight couples struggles with some form of infertility. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines infertility as, “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” There can be many causes for infertility and doctors are just starting to get a better understanding of how to treat it. As science advances and popular culture begins to bring attention to the once very private subject of fertility, more couples are becoming parents through assisted reproductive technologies (ART). These include In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), donated genetics, and surrogacy. However, as the world begins to talk about infertility and assisted reproduction, myths about the process are also becoming more commonplace. Here are the biggest myths and misconceptions we hear regularly.
Surrogates are related to the children they carry.
This is a myth that once carried some amount of truth. There are two types of surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy, wherein an embryo created outside of the body is placed in an unrelated woman’s womb to grow, and traditional surrogacy, wherein the surrogate also acts as the egg donor. In the case of traditional surrogacy, a surrogate would also be the biological mother of the child. This method is far less common than gestational surrogacy. Most US-based surrogacy agencies will not work with traditional surrogates. In the case of gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is just a carrier–the fetus she carries will have no maternal relationship with her.
Surrogates are poor, desperate women.
We really dislike this myth, as we consider our surrogates to be among the most selfless, loving women we know. In our program, as well as the programs of most reputable agencies, surrogates are thoroughly vetted. Our intense screening process considers physical, mental, emotional, and financial fitness before acceptance into the program. The result is loving women who are fiscally independent, loving mothers, motivated by altruistic desires, and fully supported by their spouse in this endeavor.
IVF is always successful.
As much as we wish it were true, this is also a myth. IVF has made tremendous breakthroughs in reproductive science and does offer impressive odds, but it’s still not an exact science. While Resolve, the National Infertility Association, reports that success rates with IVF treatments are around 30%, surrogacy allows for better odds. By selecting the best possible eggs from qualified donors, using esteemed IVF doctors, and placing only the best embryos into the uterus of a highly qualified surrogate, we’re able to offer much higher success rates with our program. However, nothing is ever guaranteed when it comes to IVF.
Insurance covers IVF treatments.
While some forward-thinking, progressive employers are beginning to offer coverage on some infertility treatments, the large majority of these costly procedures remain uncovered by insurance.
You should always transfer multiple embryos.
In the infancy of popular IVF, doctors commonly transferred multiple embryos into a woman’s uterus. The result was frequent instances of multiple gestations. These days, doctors are far more likely to recommend a single, or a double at maximum, embryo transfer as their standard. The result tends to be a singleton pregnancy that carries far fewer risks and complications than a potential multiple fetus gestations would.
Frozen embryos are weaker than fresh embryo transfers, and lower your odds of success.
Recent research out of the University of South Wales has disproved this infertility myth. Researchers concluded that frozen embryo transfers are just as successful as fresh transfers. The obvious benefit of a frozen transfer is that it allows the doctor to have more control over the cycle. Since embryos can be safely thawed in a short amount of time, a doctor can elect to cancel the transfer without damaging the embryo if all factors are not ideal for transfer.