What are the key stages of the Surrogacy process?
For those considering fertility treatment, especially via surrogacy, it’s important to understand the timelines involved so you can plan ahead. By understanding each step it becomes easier to see how this process might fit around your existing schedule. It helps to create realistic expectations for everyone involved. One of the helpful aspects of the Surrogacy timeline is the option to break it down into key stages. This will allow you the time to take a break before moving onto the next step.
The CRGH Surrogacy process can be broken down into six key stages:
This is the very first appointment with your CRGH Doctor, where (as intended parents) you will discuss your medical and fertility history as well as the different treatment options available to you. If you’re fortunate enough to already have a surrogate in place they will have a separate consultation with the doctor to ensure they are suitable to carry the pregnancy and aware of the process involved. Most intended parents are only matched with a surrogate much later in the process, once your embryos have been created.
CRGH will arrange for you and your surrogate to speak with our Counsellor. This is to ensure everyone involved fully understands the implications of surrogacy treatment. In the UK this is a mandatory step in the surrogacy process and one which many people find incredibly helpful. Our expert counsellors encourage you to ask any questions you might have and ensure you have all the information you need from an emotional perspective.
Semen Analysis and freezing
Once you have decided how to proceed you will usually undergo a semen analysis. This is to ensure the quality of your semen is sufficient to give the best chance of creating healthy embryos. Once you have these results you can freeze a sample. This will be thawed and used to create embryos at a later date. One aspect which is often overlooked in this part of the process is the mandatory requirement for the sample to undergo a quarantine period of at least 3 months. This step ensures there are no underlying infections or issues with the sperm which are not apparent immediately. Should you like, you could pause after this stage, content in the knowledge that your suitable sample is safely stored and ready for use when needed.
Finding an Egg Donor
Unless you are fortunate enough to have a known donor ready to donate eggs, the next step is to find an egg donor with characteristics which match what you are looking for. CRGH has their own egg donation programme which matches you with donors as they become available. The timeline is usually dependent on how specific your required characteristics are. Once the donated eggs are in place, your frozen sample can be thawed and used to create embryos. This hugely exciting step gives you as intended parents another opportunity to pause in the knowledge your embryos are safely frozen and ready for use once you have a surrogate in place.
Finding a Surrogate
For most intended parents it is at this point that the search for a suitable surrogate really begins. Using organisations such as My Surrogacy Journey will help you get matched with suitable surrogates. After a ‘get to know period’ (usually around 3 months) to ensure you’re all happy with the partnership, the surrogate will have an initial consultation, counselling and any relevant investigations at CRGH to prepare her for the embryo transfer.
This is the exciting culmination of the process, where your embryo is thawed and transferred to your surrogate. After 10 days your surrogate can come to CRGH for blood tests to confirm the results of the embryo transfer. CRGH then looks after the surrogate up until the 12th week of pregnancy. They will then be referred to antenatal care locally. If, unfortunately, the transfer was unsuccessful, you will work closely with your consultant to understand why and create a plan for the next steps.