Written by Caroline Shannon
February 25, 2023
Learn about common surrogacy medications and what to expect regarding side effects.
There are a few common questions that come along at the beginning of a surrogacy journey, including those related to compensation and parentage. But if you are a potential surrogate curious about the experience, you may also wonder about surrogacy medications.
Keep reading to learn more about common medications necessary to begin preparing a surrogate for embryo transfer, including a surrogacy medication timeline and side effects that may follow.
While there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to surrogacy medications, some are typical to preparing for embryo transfer. Here are a few you’ll likely encounter during the process:
Birth control pills: Oral contraception is often the first medicine a clinic prescribes to begin planning for embryo transfer. Surrogates take these pills for about two weeks.
Clinics administer birth control pills and Lupron (more on that next) to prevent ovulation. While that may seem contradictory, it makes perfect sense. Remember, a surrogate baby results from genetic material from the intended parents and/or donor material. Surrogates do not need to ovulate because an already-establish embryo from the intended parent(s) will be what is transferred to their uterus to, hopefully, begin a successful pregnancy.
Lupron: In addition to birth control pills, a surrogate will often begin Lupron, an injectable synthetic hormone that, like birth control pills, is used to prevent ovulation. Lupron is injected into the belly or back of your arm.
Estrogen: Once birth control pills and Lupron are no longer being administered, a surrogate will often begin estrogen, usually as a patch or a pill. This medication thickens your uterine lining and makes a perfect little spot for the embryo to implant.
Progesterone injections: Last in the lineup is most likely progesterone injections. This medication mocks ovulation, increasing your progesterone just like you have ovulated. Progesterone injections make the lining that we prepped with the estrogen sticky and prepare for the embryo transfer. You will continue this medication and estrogen until you are directed to stop.
Related: Surrogacy Terms to Know: What Is An Embryo?
While a surrogacy medication timeline can vary depending on the person, a surrogate can expect to administer these medications for approximately six to seven weeks. This time begins when you start taking birth control pills up to the day of embryo transfer.
Surrogacy medications can indeed cause symptoms similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Symptoms include:
- breast tenderness
- hot flashes
You may also notice that your injection sites may become irritated. Reduce discomfort by applying ice or a warm compress after the injection.
Related: What's Involved in Medical Screening for Surrogacy?
The bottom line: Surrogacy medications aren’t the same for everyone, but you can expect to see a few or all of the above during your route to embryo transfer.