Understanding Surrogacy Success Rates
Surrogacy success rates posted by some IVF clinics may seem simple, but they are often very misleading. Here’s what you should know…
Because 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.
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.)
Similarly, 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.
On 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 AUTHOR: Bill Houghton
Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the ‘Sensible’ Surrogacy Guide, and a dedicated Consultant who has advised thousands of couples on worldwide opportunities for Gestational Surrogacy. He is also a surrogacy parent himself, and advocates for ethical and secure gestational surrogacy programs. Learn more about Bill on his profile page at SensibleSurrogacy.com as well as professional background on LinkedIn.
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