Consider this: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19% of married American women between 15 and 49 years old can’t get pregnant after trying for a year! What’s worse, 26%) of women in this group can’t carry a pregnancy to term or have difficulty getting pregnant.
But not all heroes wear capes. If you’ve decided to become a surrogate mom to help such women hold their precious babies, you’re a true heroine who deserves all the medals in this world. However, to become a surrogacy candidate, you must make the following health appointments detailed in this article. Keep reading to start your heroic journey. Let’s start!
1. General Checkup
It’s mandatory to have a general checkup to become a surrogacy candidate. The tests ensure you’re physically fit to give birth to a healthy child. The screening design protects you, the intended parents, and the much-awaited baby.
To qualify as a surrogate, you must have given birth to at least one child. Typically, this ensures that you can carry a surrogate pregnancy seamlessly. Additionally, you must be free from any medical condition that may jeopardize the pregnancy. Screening confirms to the to-be parents that you’re the safest choice as a surrogacy candidate.
Firstly, you must undergo a physical exam to ensure you’re healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to full term without complications. The exam ensures you receive the required IVF injectable hormone medications. Typically, the physical examination involves your abdominal area, pelvis, heart, and lungs. Also, an ultrasonographer will use a sonohysterogram to check your uterus and ovaries.
The next step is taking blood and urine tests to screen for infection. Your pre-screening will involve basic tests to ensure you’re fit for in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Also, the physician will test your blood type to ensure that it marries seamlessly with the intended father or sperm donor. They check the Rh status to prevent complications like Rh immunization, typically due to blood incompatibility. Also, they’ll test your hormones for thyroid hormone and prolactin.
Another vital examination is checking for signs of precancers on the abnormal cells of the cervix using a pap smear, while a cervical swab will check for STDS such as gonorrhea and chlamydia and diseases like Syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis B/C. Your physician will also take a transvaginal ultrasound to examine the health of your uterus. They check for uterus problems like scar tissue, fibroids, or polyps through a saline infusion sonography and abnormalities like fibroids, cysts, or endometriosis.
Although not mandatory, you should also consider visiting a dental office for a checkup and for a dental bridge if you need one. Your dental health has a significant impact on your overall health. For this reason, you must maintain good oral hygiene for a successful pregnancy. If you have concerns about balance and hearing problems and think the issues can put the unborn baby at risk, you must visit an audiologist immediately.
2. Evaluation of Your Mental Health
Let’s agree; pregnancy is a mentally draining journey. According to Stanford Medicine, 20% of women suffer from anxiety or mood disorders during pregnancy and postpartum. For this reason, a professional must assess whether you’re emotionally and mentally fit to become a surrogacy candidate. You must know that it’s completely normal to worry about mental assessment. However, it’s necessary for you, the expected parents, and the much-awaited baby’s well-being.
The mental health evaluation aims to determine how to advise and prepare you for the surrogacy experience. It allows the interested parties to understand your mind better and, at the same time, prioritize your psychological best interests throughout the whole process.
It’s a psych evaluation. You’ll have to answer questions primarily focusing on your surrogacy perception, adoption, and the state of your mind. Typically, the questions seem invasive and may force you to step out of your comfort zone. Remember to answer them honestly, as the psychiatrist will easily detect any deceitful answer.
It would be best if you prepared to answer questions about managing stress. Determining whether you have enough psychological on your surrogacy journey will be a significant area during psych evaluation. Be ready for a conversation explaining how you manage stress, what you do to overcome stress and relax, and give details about your support system.
You must know that a psych evaluation isn’t a one-time meeting with a psychiatrist. You must also prepare to fill out computer-generated personality tests. These tests play a vital role in gauging your personality type to understand you better.
The psych test design isn’t to trick you using psychological ‘tricks,’ as most people tend to think. No one will try to make certain assumptions about you, so there’ll be no need to worry. Typically, the psych test is very transparent.
Most people imagine the test involves sitting for hours in an intimidating, dimly lit room like in the movies. No, it isn’t a police interrogation lasting for eternity. You’ll be surprised to know that most tests barely last an hour. So, there’s nothing to worry about, and the test is for your good.
3. Gynecological Exam
Let’s agree. You must have a healthy reproductive system to carry a pregnancy to full term. Therefore, visiting a gynecologist for a gynecological exam is mandatory to become a surrogacy candidate. Usually, the gynecological exam involves the physical examination of your reproductive organs. The gynecologist will study your cervix and uterus and also conduct a pap smear procedure to screen if you may be having any abnormalities or infections.
The primary goal of the exam is to determine whether you have a condition or other underlying factors that may affect your capability to carry pregnancy. The test results will dictate if your reproductive system will provide a safe environment for the embryo to develop seamlessly.
Also, the gynecologist may inquire about your medical history and review your previous pregnancies and complications if you had any. They’ll also advise you on prenatal care and other medical interventions needed during surrogacy.
The gynecologist will also discuss the early pregnancy issues you may experience during surrogacy and how to handle them. Also, they’ll advise you on the safe medications you can take and the kind to avoid. The OBGYN may also inform you about the best exercise to do during surrogacy and which to avoid.
If you’re concerned about certain symptoms, the gynecologist will be the best source for any advice and clarifications. However, emergencies like heavy bleeding and cramping, severe morning sickness, and persistent headaches must be considered ER cases. If you’re experiencing backaches, the gynecologist can attend to the symptoms for a full examination or recommend a visit to the chiropractor office.
4. Genetic Testing
Reproductive technologies are advancing speedily. Hence, embryo selection and genetic screening are vital to ensure a healthy and successful surrogacy journey. Genetic testing is a mandatory requirement to become a surrogacy candidate.
One of the genetic testing procedures is preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS), typically used in assisted reproductive technology (ART). The process involves examining vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos to identify genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities. The test gives information about the embryo’s genetic health, allowing the intended parents to choose the most genetically normal and the most viable for transfer during surrogacy.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is a similar technique. However, it centers on testing genetic mutations or specific genes associated with known genetic conditions. It allows the identification of unaffected embryos or carriers of particular genetic conditions.
Both tests give the intended parents a wider understanding of the embryo’s genetic makeup. This information enables them to make brilliant decisions on embryo transfer to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy and birthing a healthy baby. PGS/PGD enhances embryo selection, increases pregnancy success rates, and reduces the risks of genetic disorders, among other benefits.
After the examination, you’ll feel relaxed after taking the proactive steps to enhance the long-awaited child safety. As a result, you can confidently continue surrogacy, knowing that you’ve done the necessary genetic examination.
5. Fertility Evaluation
It’s mindboggling that according to the World Health Organization, nearly 17.5% of adults – about one in six globally – experience infertility. So, to qualify as a surrogacy candidate, you must do a fertilization exam to ensure you can carry a pregnancy to full term. A typical fertility evaluation combines physical exams and your medical history assessment. The primary goal of the test is to ensure that you have a healthy reproductive system to carry pregnancy to term without complications. Therefore, Fertility evaluation is a mandatory requirement to become a surrogacy candidate.
Firstly, the test will assess whether your reproductive system is functioning properly. The evaluation can identify abnormalities or problems affecting your ability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. It also assesses your hormonal balance to ensure they are within the normal range. Hormonal imbalances will impact your menstrual cycle, ovulation, and reproductive health. For this reason, your hormone levels must be appropriate to become a surrogacy candidate.
The fertility evaluation also involves checking your ovarian reserves – the quality and number of eggs as a woman. Fertility tests like an anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) and antral follicle count tests can easily estimate your remaining egg supply in the ovaries. Typically, these tests assess your potential to respond to fertility treatments and successful egg production.
During a fertility evaluation, the physician will also screen for infectious diseases that can easily be transmitted to the baby during gestation or childbirth. Typically, they keenly check for conditions like hepatitis B and C and other sexually transmitted diseases. One of the major reasons you must conduct a fertility evaluation is to identify any underlying conditions or risks that may affect your surrogacy capabilities. The tests are designed to ensure the baby’s well-being from the initial stages, full term to delivery, and your protection as a surrogate.
Remember, you must ensure you’re healthy for the baby’s well-being. Go for checkups, visit an ear nose and throat doctor, and go that extra mile to ensure your general health is okay. Be the expected parents’ hero and deliver a healthy baby.
6. Meet With a Reproductive Health Lawyer
Although not a health appointment, legal consultation with a reproductive health lawyer is essential to complete surrogacy successfully. Let’s agree you’ll need the best orthodontist for a perfect Invisalign treatment, right? Similarly, you’ll need the services of a reproductive health lawyer to walk you through the legal steps in your surrogacy journey.
You must know that surrogacy laws vary by state. While some states are surrogacy-friendly, others may have numerous restrictions, making surrogacy nearly cumbersome. A reproductive health attorney understands surrogacy laws in your state. By working with them, they’ll ensure that your surrogacy arrangement complies with the laws to prevent friction between you and the authorities.
Drafting a surrogacy agreement contract isn’t an easy task. You may easily get confused about the clauses to include and not to include in the contract. If you don’t want to find yourself on the losing side of any legal battle, you must walk with an attorney to help you draft, read, and understand all the surrogacy contract’s clauses.
Typically, surrogacy entails complex legal issues that may be too hard to understand. However, a reproductive health attorney will help you and the intended parents comprehend surrogacy’s legal rights and responsibilities. They’ll also point out particular surrogacy laws and regulations in your jurisdiction.
Anything can happen during the surrogacy period, and if you want to protect your interests, you must work with a reproductive health attorney. The attorney ensures the surrogacy terms are reasonable. Moreover, they guide and help safeguard your rights in a legal battle.
Surrogacy is heroism. However, to become a surrogacy candidate, you must be ready to do some tests to ensure you can complete the pregnancy. Use this article to guide you.