Surrogacy Medications and Risks

You’ve been thinking about surrogacy and making dreams come true for someone who wants to have a family. It’s great reward for all involved, so unfortunately there are also risks. Pregnancy, whether with your own baby or with a surro-baby, comes with risks: anemia, hypertension, gestational diabetes, morning sickness (hyperemesis) are just a few, according to the CDC.

Even with those risks, the reward is so great that women continue to (willingly) become pregnant with their own babies and others’ babies (thank you, surrogates!). John Quincy Adams, while likely completely ignorant of surrogacy, said the perfect words for surrogacy: “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

Now on to some of those difficulties and obstacles! First off, the kinds of medications you’ll be taking as a surrogate, preparing your body for embryo transfer and pregnancy.

Before Embryo Transfer:

  • Birth Control Pills: before transfer to regulate your cycle
  • Lupron – shot (small needle): for 3 – 4 weeks daily before transfer to suppress your cycle

Before and After Embryo Transfer: You can be taking these medications multiple times a day and more than one at a time, depending on the calendar you’re given by the fertility clinic. These medications may start 3 or 4 weeks before embryo transfer, and can continue through the first 10 – 12 weeks after transfer (and sometimes through the whole pregnancy):

  • Estriadol patches (estrogen)
  • Oral Tablets (estrogen)
  • Vaginal creams and suppositories (estrogen and progesterone)
  • Progesterone shots
  • Steroids and/or antibiotics

From start of medications through pregnancy:

  • Aspirin
  • CoQ10
  • Range of prenatal, DHA, and folic acid

The medications can cause reactions. These reactions are mostly just an inconvenience, but can be surprising for first time surrogates.

Reaction to the fertility drugs include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Low mood
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Mild bruising and soreness at injection site
  • Nausea and, occasionally, vomiting
  • Temporary allergic reactions, such as skin reddening and/or itching at the injection site
  • Fatigue

As for the pregnancy itself, a surrogacy pregnancy comes with the same risks as your own pregnancies. There are a couple of risks separate that come with the embryo transfer process, IVF produced embryos, and medication, like the following:

  • Increased incidence of multiple births
  • Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome
  • Cramping during catheter insertion for embryo transfer
  • Cysts on ovaries
  • Ectopic pregnancy

Keep in mind that every situation is different, everybody’s body responds differently, and the health of embryos and many other factors go into the success of a transfer to a gestational carrier.  These lists of medications and possible risks look scary, but the reality is that the risks are relatively low. And at the end of it? A beautiful baby for a family who has been hoping and dreaming of that little bundle, and you get front row seats and feels!