Gestational surrogates become pregnant through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and not through traditional means. As a surrogate, you take medications to prepare your body to accept the fertilized embryo. However, these are mostly hormonal medications that trick your body into believing you’re pregnant. A Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) analyzes your medical history and tailors your pregnancy and prenatal medications to what your body needs.
Not every surrogate will have the same medications or the same timeframe for taking them. Follow the directions given to you rather than what you have heard of others doing and feel comfortable asking questions if anything seems unclear. It’s common to self-administered injections. However, this is following a thorough education on how to perform your injections properly. Below are some of the most common medications you might need to take as a surrogate.
Progesterone is a natural hormone. It is normally produced by your ovaries. However, you will take this to thicken your uterine lining for embryo implantation and early pregnancy maintenance. Progesterone is most popular in injection form. However, some people take it as a vaginal suppository or gel. Possible side effects may include tenderness at the injection site, vaginal discharge, dizziness, or breast tenderness.
Estrogen is often administered before the embryo transfer until around the end of the first trimester. It helps to grow the lining of the uterus and keep early pregnancies. It might be taken through oral pills, injections, vaginal tablets, or transdermal patches on your stomach that allows you to absorb estrogen through your skin. The frequency of taking estrogen varies depending on which form you are using. You continue to take estrogen until your placenta takes over production around the 12th week of pregnancy. Possible side effects may include bloating, breast tenderness, or slight nausea.
Birth Control for Pregnancy?
Taking birth control pills early in your cycle will help you sync your cycle with that of the intended mother or egg donor. You don’t want to accidentally get pregnant with your own child and birth control helps with that as well. Also, it is usually taken in conjunction with Lupron.
Leuprolide Acetate is commonly called Lupron. You typically start taking it about two weeks after starting birth control and lessen your dosage when your menstrual cycle begins. Its purpose is to stop you from ovulating by overstimulating your production of certain hormones. You should still avoid sex while on Lupron unless approved by your doctor. Lupron must be injected into fatty tissue. You must discontinue injections before egg retrieval from the intended mother or egg donor. Possible side effects may include headaches, hot flashes, fatigue, or irritation of the injection area.
Doxycycline or Tetracycline
Doxycycline and tetracycline are antibiotics, taken orally. You may take either for a few days prior to your embryo transfer to prevent infections. Doxycycline typically doesn’t have any side effects. However, tetracycline may cause slight gastrointestinal irritation or sensitivity to sunlight.
Medrol is a low-dose steroid. Most commonly taken in pill form, it helps avoid inflammation of your uterine lining. Inflammation could prevent the embryo from implanting successfully. Most women experience no side effects of Medrol.
I know my surrogacy medications and doses. Now what?
Remain organized with your medication routine. Have a plan for whether you will be self-administering injections or if a spouse or other person will handle this. Plan to take your medications at the same time each day. Setting a daily alarm can help you remember.
Keep all of your medications organized in a medicine cabinet, tackle box, or other organizers. Dispost of injection supplies properly. Put plastic caps back on needles and place them in a container that is out of reach from pets and children. Do not throw needles out in the regular garbage. Check with local medical professionals about acceptable places for disposal.
This is not an exhaustive list of everything you may need to take. Furthermore, you may not take every medication on this list. Speak to a medical professional to find out what the best options would be for your personal pregnancy situation. If you start to notice any uncommon side effects or think you took the wrong dose of a medication, inform your doctors as soon as possible.