Ask the Surrogacy Experts

“Several years ago I had a complete hysterectomy. My husband and I are now considering a family through surrogacy, but we want to both be genetic parents to our baby. Can I use my own eggs for the IVF, even after hysterectomy?”
— Carrie

Good morning Carrie,

Good news. It’s often possible for a woman to donate eggs for an IVF and surrogacy program even after a full or partial hysterectomy. Whether you can still donate will depend on the specifics of your hysterectomy. During the procedure, were your ovaries left in tact, or were they removed as well as the uterus? If your ovaries are in tact, then there’s a good chance they are fully functional and can produce the eggs for your IVF procedure.

Many women continue ovulating after having their uterus removed. So the process for stimulating the ovaries will be the same — with hormone injections to mature the follicles and prepare the eggs for retrieval. There’s a full discussion about egg retrieval and IVF in the Surrogacy Guide.

It may seem strange to think… but even after you uterus was removed, the ovaries continue to follow your typical monthly menstrual cycle. Your IVF specialist will monitor your hormone levels to determine where you are in your cycle, and then schedule your egg stimulation and retrieval accordingly.

If you intended to perform a fresh embryo transfer with your surrogate mother, you will both likely be put on oral contraceptives (birth control pills) to synchronize your cycles.

But the first step will be a complete ovarian ultrasound scan to judge the condition of the ovaries as well as the ovarian volume (also known as an antral follicle count). This scan will visibly show how many eggs you have to retrieve — it is the best indicator of likely outcome of your egg donation procedure.

As for the donation procedure itself, egg retrieval is done in the usual way if your ovaries were unaffected by the hysterectomy. If for some reason they have changed location (which sometimes happens after a hysterectomy) your doctor may need to consider alternative retrieval techniques.

The main reason doctors remove the ovaries during a hysterectomy is to lower the risk of ovarian cancer . Studies show that if you are at high risk, surgery greatly lowers your risk. If you aren’t at high risk for cancer, having your ovaries removed probably wasn’t recommended.

I hope this is useful. Let me know if you need any help finding a surrogate program that works for you and your husband.

— Bill


Didn’t find what you need?

Search our complete library for all the answers…

…or return to the ‘Sensible’ Surrogacy Guide.