What Kind of Medications are Involved in Surrogacy?

In order to have a healthy surrogate pregnancy and prepare for the embryo transfer, there are several medications you need to take. But if you’re like most women, you’ll have many questions about what you need to take and how it will change your body.

In this guide, we’ll cover a list of common surrogacy medications, the surrogacy medication timeline and more. But what surrogacy medications you’ll specifically take will depend on your body and your unique situation. While we have done our best to provide as much information as possible, it should not be taken as medical advice. If you have any questions about what you experience will be like when taking surrogacy medications, please reach out to your doctor.

When Do I Have to Start Taking Gestational Surrogacy Medications?

The medications that you’ll take and the timeline you’ll take them in will vary based on what the fertility clinic prescribes. But generally, this is what the timeframe will look like:

Step 1: Start with birth control pills

This first step will help prepare your body for the embryo transfer. The reason that you need to start taking birth control bills is because you need to synchronize your cycle to line up with the embryo transfer date. Your doctor will tell you when exactly when to start and stop taking your birth control to make sure everything is right for the transfer.

The side effects that you might experience will depend on which type of birth control pill you’re prescribed. When your doctor gives you your prescription, they will list off all of the side effects you should be aware of.

Step 2: Start taking Lupron

On top of birth control pills, you’ll be prescribed, you’ll also start Lupron. This surrogacy medication is an injection that you’ll administer for about a month. Some of the side effects include mild bruising at the site of the injection, hot flashes, breast aches, muscle aches, and more.

Some surrogates are initially nervous about taking the Lupron injections, but former surrogate Chelsea said the needle is small enough that it didn’t faze her. She also has some tips for managing the side effects of this surrogacy medication.

It was an easy shot to take, and one or two equated to the feeling of a bee sting,” she said. “The Lupron did give me some killer headaches. I wanted to stay in a dark room, and I was very sensitive to sounds. Drinking a lot of water helps.”

Step 3: Take Estrogen

After you take Lupron, you’ll start taking estrogen. Some of the side effects that come with taking estrogen include:

  • Bloating
  • Breast aches or swelling
  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • And more

You’ll normally take this surrogacy medication in the form of pills, a patch or sometimes by injection.

Step 4: Repeat these Steps or Move Forward

Around the 22-day mark, after you’ve been on these medications for several weeks, your fertility clinic will schedule an appointment. During your appointment, you’ll have a transvaginal ultrasound to check the thickness of your uterine lining and/or bloodwork to check your estrogen levels.

If everything looks good, then you’ll move on to the next step in the surrogacy medication timeline. If not, you may need to repeat the steps above to thicken your uterine lining or until your estrogen levels are high enough.

Step 5: Progesterone

About 5 days before the embryo transfer, you’ll start taking progesterone, also known as the pregnancy hormone. Before pregnancy, this surrogacy medication will help prepare the uterus to support a safe space for the embryo to grow. This is usually an intramuscular injection, involves a longer needle, and it can sting more than what you’re used to. You’ll continue taking progesterone until 12weeks of pregnancy to help maintain a stable pregnancy. The side effects can include a rash and soreness at the injection site along with headaches.

Like we mentioned earlier, the surrogacy medication timeline looks different for everyone. For Alicia, here’s what her experience with progesterone was like:

“The injection part was not bad, but it gets really sore after a while and you run out of space,” she said. “That’s the only downfall with those shots is that you get sore, and you have to keep going. You have to think, ‘I’m doing this for someone else. I’m doing this for a bigger cause.’ That’s the only thing that keeps you going at that point because you’re ready to throw those shots out the window.”

If you have any adverse surrogate mother side effects from the surrogacy medications that you feel are abnormal, please don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.

What are the Side Effects of Surrogacy Medications?

Every pregnancy is different. So, there are a range of side effects you could experience. When Codi talks about her surrogacy experience, she experienced several side effects before and after the embryo transfer.

“Before transfer, I had a couple of headaches but nothing unbearable. It was really easy at that point,” she said. “Post-transfer, some of the side effects I had — besides your regular pregnancy side effects —I had some mood swings. It definitely affected my hormones because your body isn’t producing them yourself, so they’re kind of like, ‘Where is this coming from?’ And I would say that I had some soreness from the shots — that was uncomfortable — but other than that, the side effects were pretty minimal.”

Depending on which type of surrogacy medication you’re prescribed, you might experience a range of side effects, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes
  • Skin redness or irritation
  • Nausea, stomach upset or cramping
  • Bloating or fluid retention
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight changes
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Vaginal discharge

For most surrogates, the side effects are minor — small inconveniences that are well worth it in the end, when you will get to see another family become whole because of your incredible sacrifices! Remember, if you have any questions about any side effects of surrogacy medication you are taking, please don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for more info.

Can I Do Surrogacy without Medications?

No, you can’t. Right now, you might be overwhelmed thinking about the surrogacy medical process and the list of surrogacy medications you’ll have to take. But these medications are necessary and important in preparation before the procedure to become a surrogate mother. If you don’t like the idea of taking surrogacy medications, then this path might not be the best one for you.

Do Surrogates Have to Have Shots? Is There Another Way to Take Surrogacy Medications?

Yes, surrogates have to have shots. While some medications can be taken orally or through patches or suppositories, some of the most important surrogacy hormones must be administered as injections.

It’s completely understandable to be hesitant about this part of the gestational surrogacy medication timeline — especially if you are afraid of needles, like Codi was.

“As someone who does not like needles, I did not enjoy that part, but it was very manageable,” Codi said. “They teach you how to give them to yourself or allow your husband or spouse to give them to you. I even had to have my mom give it to me once because my husband was out of town. It’s very doable. I think the meds often make people leery, but I think it’s really important to know that it’s very manageable to do.”

Of course, it is up to you to decide whether or not you will be able to handle the injections required for surrogacy. If not, this path may not be right for you.

Do Surrogates Have to Take Hormones? What if I’m Not Comfortable with That?

Yes, surrogates do have to take hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are crucial to the process and serve several purposes during your journey:

  • Control and sync your cycle for the embryo transfer date
  • Prepare your uterus for a successful pregnancy
  • Give the embryo the best possible chance at implanting
  • Help sustain the pregnancy and keep it viable

If you are not comfortable taking hormones during the surrogacy process, surrogacy likely is not going to be right for you.

Why Do You Have to Take Medicine for IVF with Surrogacy?

As a surrogate, you will undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant. During this process, an egg and sperm are combined in a lab to create an embryo, which will then be transferred to your uterus.

IVF medications are an incredibly important part of this procedure. For intended parents, surrogacy is often their last chance to have a biologically related child. You, the intended parents and your fertility clinic all want to make the most of that last chance and give it the best possible chance of being successful. That’s why you will need to take so many different surrogacy medications — to set your body up for the best chance at a successful surrogate pregnancy.

What Happens Now?

The surrogacy medical process can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to the list of medications you have to take. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out through our free information form.