Understanding Surrogacy Success Rates

by William Houghton

Surrogacy success rates posted by some IVF clinics may seem simple, but they are often very misleading. Here’s what you should know…

surrogacy success ratesBecause surrogacy regulation worldwide is inconsistent, clinics are free to post their own surrogacy success rates based on inconsistent criteria. Although a reputable clinic will not post false information about their successes, it is common for clinics (even in the United States) to post their most favorable statistics and remain silent on their less dramatic successes.

Manipulating Success Statistics

For example, there are many different IVF and surrogacy procedures, and they all have quite different success rates. The greatest success will always come from an IVF procedure where the sperm donor has had thorough medical evaluations, the egg donor is young and has a positive fertility history, and where the surrogate is also young and has met rigorous fertility criteria. In the United States, success rates in cases similar to this will be between 75% and 85% for an embryo transfer using high-quality embryos.

(In cases like the one described above, IVF clinics have a surrogacy success rate of about 75% in the US or 65% abroad. Success rates using Fresh Embryos and Frozen Embryos are now about the same thanks to new freezing techniques. The rate of a successful birth is 95% once the surrogate is pregnant.)

In some cases, the clinic only will report surrogacy statistics for cases where the embryos have gone through PGD analysis. Success rates in these cases can rise to 85%. Unfortunately, the clinic often does not reveal that their incredible success rate requires the additional medical procedures and cost. (We don’t advise PGD for all couples, however our surrogacy success rates are similarly high when a PGD procedure is added.)

Official Success Statistics

To review the success rate of US clinics as reported by the CDC, check out their website.

If you consider the success rate of the entire IVF and Surrogacy procedure (including subsequent embryo transfers with frozen embryos) the success rate is obviously much higher. Our cases have a more than 95% successful rate including subsequent transfers. Typically, cases that do not succeed after multiple embryo transfers are cases where it was later discovered that the genetic father has damaged sperm, the egg donor was unable to donate enough healthy eggs, or where the couple decided not to continue for personal reasons.

There is no reason why (if the sperm donor is healthy, and the egg donor has previous successful donations resulting in pregnancies) that an IVF and surrogacy procedure would not be 100% successful.

Surrogacy success rates cardOn the other had, few clinics will report statistics on the success of IVF procedures where the Intended Mother has donated her own eggs to the procedure. These cases typically have very high risk because the couple often has a long history of failed pregnancies, and the egg donor is usually much older than average. For these reasons success rates for “self-donation” procedures are often around 20% to 25%.

When comparing IVF and surrogacy success rates between clinics and agencies, it is often useful to ask for details on the “typical case” that is being reported. You may also ask for the number of embryo transfers the clinic has performed in the past year, and the corresponding number of successful pregnancies. This will provide a more useful comparison.

About the authors

  • Bill-Houghton
  • Author: William Houghton

    Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the Sensible Surrogacy Guide, 2x surrogacy dad, and a dedicated advocate for secure, legal and ethical Gestational Surrogacy. Read Bill's Biography

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