Not every couple can easily transition to starting a family by allowing the woman in the relationship to get pregnant. For many, this is the most common step on the journey to family, but for some, medical considerations, such as a history of miscarriages, or even a medical condition like heart disease, meaning that a natural pregnancy is not medically advised, or, in some cases, where women have had life-saving surgery that removed their uterus, medically impossible.
In these instances, there may be a decision to adopt a child, but one other alternative is surrogacy. However, some people not familiar with surrogacy may be wondering what the odds of success are. So let’s take a closer look at the surrogacy process, and see what factors along the different stages of the journey can affect the success rate of surrogacy.
All The Stages Matter
For the easiest answer to what surrogacy success rates can be, 75% is the most common number. Of course, just saying 75% doesn’t explain much, so where does that number come from? That is the average that American surrogacy clinic will use, but it works under many underlying assumptions about how the surrogacy is being undertaken. 75% is an “ideal conditions” scenario, where there is a healthy egg, healthy sperm, and healthy surrogate mother all involved in the process, while a safe, medically supervised pregnancy is closely monitored.
However, not every single one of these factors can always be factored in, and there may be circumstances where that’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, that’s just the way the particular conditions have played out in the scenario. A few of the factors that can critically affect the success rate are:
The Donor Egg
It all starts with the egg. The egg must be fertilized, and once it is, 50% of the genetic material in the egg will be used to form a growing baby. In traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate mother uses her own egg, this means that surrogate mother selection can be critical, as the mother’s genetics can be part of the evaluation process, to ensure that a healthy, genetically normal egg is used for the fertilization process.
However, in gestational surrogacy, where a donor is used, most often the mother of the hopeful family, this can change the equation somewhat. Depending on the hopeful mother’s age, state of health, and, critically, genetic background, all, some, or none of the ideal requirements may be present. For example, if the hopeful mother’s family has a history of autism, then there is a real chance that the baby born may have autism spectrum disorder.
The Donor Sperm
In the same way that the egg plays a crucial role in the final genetics of the child to be, the sperm used completes the other 50% of the genetic equation. As with the egg, a donor is required, and the most common choice is the hopeful father in the couple, though there are other alternatives, especially for same-sex female couples who have no sperm to harvest.
As with the egg, the genetic “condition” of the sperm matters a lot in the success rate of the surrogacy. While “carrying on the family name” may be the most important thing for the hopeful father, if the family itself has a history of Down’s Syndrome, or cystic fibrosis, these are genetic disorders, and can subsequently be passed on to every new generation of a child born with that DNA in the mix. So any insistence on using donor sperm with these associated genetic disorders carries that inherent risk.
The Surrogate Mother’s Condition
Then, of course, beyond the genetic characteristics of the donor material, there is the surrogate mother herself. Even if it isn’t her egg that is being used, the health of the surrogate mother is critical to the success of the pregnancy. This is why there are often stringent requirements for the health record of the surrogate mother to be considered a viable candidate.
A healthy, physically fit woman is, of course, preferred, under the age of 35, to ensure maximum fitness, stamina, energy, and resiliency. The lifestyle of the surrogate mother is also important. Someone that consumes alcohol, smokes cigarettes and takes drugs, and is unwilling to stop these habits even during pregnancy will harm a child. Failure to take these factors into account can result in a miscarriage and traumatic, disappointing experience for everyone involved. Even factors like the presence of a criminal record or history of mental illness in a family may be factors here.
This is why, when it comes to surrogacy, it is always better to invest in an experienced surrogate motherhood clinic that can help hopeful families through this experience. Extensive medical support, careful screening, and selection of a suitable surrogate mother, and careful supervision throughout the pregnancy all mean that when the time comes, the rate of success for a healthy baby born to a surrogate mother is as high as it can be.