Choosing the Right IVF Clinic for Your Surrogacy Journey
25th Sept 2023
Embarking on a surrogacy journey is a life-changing decision, and choosing the right IVF clinic for your surrogacy journey is an essential part of that process. In this blog, we guide you through the key questions to ask and important factors to consider, from costings to clinic requirements for surrogates.
Finding a Clinic in the UK
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) offers a Clinic Search Tool where you can search clinics via location and access valuable information such as services offered, ratings, and success rates. However, be aware that not all clinics offer surrogacy services, as an additional licence is required for this. You may need to phone individual clinics to find out more.
Questions to Ask When Contacting a Clinic
Do you have sister clinics or other locations that can be used by our surrogate?
- Why it matters: Some clinics have multiple locations, offering greater flexibility for your surrogate’s convenience.
Do you accept embryos from other clinics? What freezing methods can you accept?
- Why it matters: If you already have frozen embryos, knowing whether the clinic can accommodate them is vital, especially if you need to move embryos closer to your surrogate.
What are your timescales for treatment? Is there a wait for surrogacy patients?
- Why it matters: Time is often of the essence in fertility treatments, and waiting times can vary from clinic to clinic.
What are your success rates? Are these based on three transfers?
- Why it matters: Understanding success rates, and how they are calculated, can help set realistic expectations.
How long would we have to wait to be matched with an egg donor?
- Why it matters: Waiting times for egg donors can vary, impacting your overall timeline. It is useful to get on the waiting list sooner rather than later if you require donor eggs.
How many surrogacy cycles a year do you perform on average?
- Why it matters: A higher number may indicate more experience with surrogacy treatments. Some smaller clinics may not perform many surrogacy cycles but may be able to offer a better customer service experience so this data should be considered alongside other elements that are important.
What add-on treatments do you regularly use or recommend?
- Why it matters: Clinics may indicate that additional treatments may increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. For more information on add-ons and their proven success rates, please see HFEA guidance.
What emotional support do you provide? Is it available to the surrogate?
- Why it matters: Emotional support for both intended parents and surrogates is crucial for a successful journey. You should enquire as to what support is available in the event of a negative test result, or an early loss and whether all parties can access this support.
Do you have a surrogacy coordinator or surrogacy-specific fertility nurse?
- Why it matters: Having a dedicated point of contact can offer added support and ease communication. Most surrogacy teams cite this as one of the most important factors when choosing a clinic.
Understanding the Costs
Specific Costs to Ask About
- Virology screening
- IVF treatment cycle
- Embryo freezing
- IVF medication
- Frozen embryo transfer
- Donor egg cycle
- Genetic testing
- Surrogacy Administration
- What it is: Some clinics charge an administration fee specifically for surrogacy journeys. This fee can vary from clinic to clinic.
- Why it matters: Hidden or unexpected costs can add financial stress to your surrogacy journey. It’s crucial to clarify if there will be an administration charge, how much it will be, and how often it will be billed.
Clinic Requirements for Surrogates
When choosing a clinic, you should enquire about their requirements for surrogates. Understanding these criteria can inform your choice of clinic.
Recommended Surrogate BMI
- Why it matters: The Body Mass Index (BMI) is an important factor that clinics consider for the surrogate’s eligibility. A BMI that is too high or too low can affect the success rates of IVF and the overall health of the surrogate and baby.
Recommended Surrogate Age
- Why it matters: Age is another key consideration for surrogate eligibility. Clinics usually have a recommended age range for surrogates, as it can impact the success rates of the surrogacy journey.
Disqualifying Obstetric Conditions
- Why it matters: Conditions related to previous pregnancies, like multiple C-sections or preterm deliveries, could disqualify a potential surrogate. It’s important to clarify these conditions early on.
Disqualifying Medical Conditions
- Why it matters: Certain medical conditions could make surrogacy riskier and may disqualify a candidate. Understanding what these disqualifying conditions are will help you when looking for a surrogate.
- Why it matters: Some medications can interfere with fertility treatments or pose risks during pregnancy. Know what these are to ensure that you can make an informed decision when choosing to work with a surrogate.
- Why it matters: Vaccinations may be required to protect both the surrogate and the baby during the pregnancy. Each clinic will have its own guidelines about what is required or recommended.
Types of IVF Treatments
Clinics may offer different types of IVF treatments, and the type preferred by your surrogate could influence your choice of clinic. Whether it’s Fully Medicated IVF, Mild IVF, or Natural IVF, knowing what is offered can guide your decisions.
Fully Medicated IVF: This is the most common form of IVF and involves using medication to control the surrogate’s cycle.
- Why it matters: Fully medicated IVF is the usual protocol offered by clinics but some surrogates would prefer not to undertake it.
Mild IVF (progesterone only): This involves fewer drugs and is much gentler on the surrogates body. Only progesterone is used in this method.
- Why it matters: Mild IVF may be less physically taxing on the surrogate but some clinics may not offer it.
Natural IVF (no medication): In natural IVF, no drugs are used.
- Why it matters: Natural IVF is the least invasive but is the rarest type of IVF to be offered by clinics. It may be a better fit for surrogates who prefer to avoid medications.
Act as a Consumer
Choose a clinic as though you are a consumer. Given that you will likely be self-funding, it’s crucial to select a clinic that meets your needs on multiple fronts, from the financial to the emotional. By taking a consumer-focused approach, you can make an informed choice that best suits your surrogacy journey.
Get Personal Recommendations
While all this information is invaluable, sometimes personal stories and recommendations can provide further insight. For personalised recommendations on IVF clinics that are known for excellence in surrogacy, consider joining the SurrogacyUK open Facebook group. This is a supportive community where you can ask questions, share experiences, and get recommendations from those who have walked this path before you.
One of the member benefits of being with SurrogacyUK comes from our collaborative work with clinics. SurrogacyUK do not partner with clinics, nor do we receive any financial benefit from them so our members can be assured that the clinics we recommend genuinely provide excellent surrogacy services.