Surrogacy Medications and Risks: Know Before-Hand What Fertility Medications Surrogate Mothers Need To Take For a Healthy, Happy Baby
Congratulations on deciding to become a surrogate mother!
You’ve taken the first step in offering an incredible opportunity for intended parents who might not otherwise have been able to have a baby of their own.
Because everyone wants to do their utmost to ensure that a baby is born healthy, there are a few steps that a surrogate mother needs to take. When it comes to surrogacy in California at our agency, we want to make sure that all of our surrogate mothers are healthy.
After all, a healthy mother means a healthy baby. Much like a woman will take prenatal medicine and vitamins, a surrogate mother will be required to take medications in order to facilitate her surrogacy pregnancy, and get her body prepared for embryo transfer.
This article will discuss those medications and any possible side effects or risks that they may include.
It’s important to note that Made in the USA Surrogacy is not an IVF clinic, so we are unable to know before-hand what specific medication your fertility clinic will be prescribing.
One of the most important medications that you will likely take before an in-vitro fertilization procedure is Doxycycline. This drug is an antibiotic.
It basically works to keep your body clean of any potential bacteria that might be floating around in your body.
That bacteria could attack the embryo during in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, and either kill it or severely injure it.
In fact, a bacterial infection could result in a condition or disability that might affect the baby their entire life if it manages to survive the infection.
As such, Doxycycline is a vital step before in-vitro fertilization. Your partner may also be asked to use Doxycycline. This ensures that they do not infect you with a bacterial infection either.
Doxycycline is usually taken at two periods. Before in-vitro fertilization and after the embryo has been transferred. Your fertility clinic will be able to tell you if need to take Doxycycline any further beyond that point.
Besides just cleaning out any possible lurking infections in your pelvic area, it can also be used as an anti-rejection method to ensure that the embryo is transferred successfully.
If your body infects the embryo due to a low-grade infection, then your body may attack the embryo rather than receive it and nurture it. Doxycycline can prevent that from occurring.
Doxycycline is typically taken through an oral supplement. Your fertility clinic will tell you how many you need to take and at what point during the day.
There are many brand names for Doxycycline. Some of the most popular are Acticlate, Adoxa CK, Adoxa Pak, Adoxa TT, Alodox, Avidoxy, Doryx, Mondoxyne NL, Monodox, Morgidox, Oracea, Oraxyl, Periostat Targadox, Vibramycin Calcium, Vibramycin Hyclate, Vibramycin Monohydrate, Vibra-Tabs.
When it comes to side effects, it’s typically quite rare for any to occur.
However, there is always a chance.
As such, some of the possible side effects that you might experience are:
- Blistering or Peeling of the Skin
- Swelling of the Tongue or Throat
- A Decrease in Your Appetite
- State of Chills / Nausea
- Stools that are Clay-Like in Color
- Tingling Sensation or Numbness in Face or Hands
- Coughing or Sore Throat
- Stomach Pain that Might Radiate to Your Back
- Dark-Colored Urine
- Red Skin Lesions with a Purple Center
- Complete Loss of Appetite
- Eye Soreness and Redness
- Redness of Skin
- Stomach Pain that Is Severe
- Difficulty When Swallowing
- Ulcers or Sores Around the Mouth
- Dizziness Stomach Cramps or Tenderness A
- General Feeling of Discomfort
- Swollen or Tender Lymph Glands
- Hives or Rash
- Unusual Sense of Tiredness or Weakness
- Increase in Thirst
- Sudden and Unusual Weight Loss
- Inflammation of Joints That Can Become Painful
- Yellow Eyes or Skin
When it comes to your nervous system, the most common side effect that was reported was a headache. Only 26% of the cases, however, reported a headache.
A common side effect was a sinus headache. An extremely rare side effect that was reported was a bulging fontanel in the baby, blurred vision, and tinnitus.
Side effects are rare. At most, you may feel a little under the weather for a time until the fertility medication passes through your system.
Because, as a surrogate mother, you did not produce the baby yourself, your body is still operating with a belief that it is not pregnant.
As such, you’re still ovulating. The hormones being produced are incorrect for those that are needed during pregnancy.
One of the drugs that your fertility clinic (the fertility clinic that your intended parents have produced embryos at) will very likely prescribe for you is Lupron.
This surrogacy medication essentially shuts down the production of hormones involved with the ovulation process.
By shutting down those hormones, the surrogacy medication allows the fertility doctor to have complete control over your body’s hormones instead.
Typically, Lupron will be used alongside birth control pills. Your birth control pills are also quite effective in shutting down unnecessary hormones.
In so doing, your cycle basically becomes in tandem with the cycle of the what the fertility clinic will want for your embryo transfer date. Initially, you’ll begin with birth control pills.
After 14 days have passed, you’ll start taking Lupron. Once your menstrual cycle begins, the dosage of Lupron is decreased. Once it nears the time to receive the egg, then you’ll stop taking Lupron entirely.
Lupron is taken through an injection.
This injection is made with a 1/2-inch needle and can be done at home. The injection is administered into the muscle.
For those who are uncomfortable with needles, it is also possible for your partner to administer it for you, and you can check out our blog on the topic.
However, they should be trained by the nurse to do so. If neither of you is fans of needles, then your fertility clinic nurses should help you with a run-down on how to perform the injections.
There are quite a few brand names for Lupron. They include Eligard, Lupron Depot, Lupron Depot-Ped, Lupron Depot-Gyn, Viadur.
As with all medications, there are always side-effects possible. It should be noted, however, that Lupron doesn’t have any commonly reported side effects.
Those that are less common involve an irregular heartbeat.
Even rarer side effects include pain in your back or muscles, fainting, breathing that is irregular or fast, tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, swelling or puffiness around the eyes, hives or rash, a sudden decrease in blood pressure that may result in a collapse, a sensation of tightness in the chest area, and difficulty with breathing.
Other rare side effects are a feeling of anxiety, a deepening of your voice, increase in hair growth, depression, and mood changes.
You might also experience hot flashes or night sweats, swelling at the injection site, less interest in sexual intercourse, swelling in your lower legs or feet, tenderness or swelling in your breasts, weight gain, vaginal bleeding that is light but irregular, burning or itching of the vagina, and pelvic pain.
In general, the most common side effects that were reported at all were general pain, hot flashes, peripheral edema, hair loss, and ischemia.
Not all of these may apply to a surrogate because Lupron is also used to treat men with prostate cancer.
For women, the likeliest side effect that you may encounter are hot flashes.
Naturally, if anything does seem off with your fertility drugs, then you should speak with your doctor immediately, and/or let your surrogacy agency know about it immediately.
While your surrogate pregnancy may be easy or difficult, keep in mind there is also a lot at stake for the intended parent who is having difficulty with their fertility.
You may use this moment to find common ground with them- and further enhance your relationship during the surrogacy.
Similar to Lupron, Estrogen will also be taken.
This fertility medication will essentially be your birth control pills.
Estrogen works to thicken the lining of your uterus. With that thickening, early pregnancy can be made a lot simpler and easier. It will essentially help the embryo implant and take to your body. Estrogen is taken early in your cycle.
Like Lupron, it will be used to help your cycle match that of the fertility clinic’s timing for embryo transfer. All of these fertility drugs work together to make the embryo transfer just that much more successful.
Once you are halfway through the Lupron part of medications (typically in the beginning), you’ll also be taking estrogen. You’ll continue with Estrogen through the 12th week of pregnancy.
This is because, at the 12th week, your placenta basically takes over all hormone production processes. The reason behind taking Estrogen at this stage is to help your body resume its natural hormone production that was being slowed by the use of Lupron.
There are numerous ways to take Estrogen.
Some methods are more effective than others for certain outcomes depending on who your fertility doctor is. You may find that the oral supplement works better than the patch for a surrogate pregnancy. Or the opposite may be true.
Either way, the fertility clinic will tell you which method to use.
You may be instructed to administer Estrogen via an oral supplement, suppository, patch, or an injection.
In terms of side effects of Estrogen, they’re typical of a situation in which your body may produce too much of it. This can usually be corrected by lowering your dose.
However, some symptoms of an excess of Estrogen include an increase in weight particularly in the hip and thigh area, non-cancerous breast lumps, noncancerous tumors in the uterus, an increase in fatigue, a decrease in your sex drive, and a general feeling of anxiety or depression.
If you do not receive enough Estrogen, then you may encounter side effects as a result. However, some of these side effects are also just natural symptoms of pregnancy. It can be difficult to know if anything is wrong in terms of how much Estrogen is in your body.
As a result, it’s always best that you speak with your fertility doctor if you think that something may be wrong due to your Estrogen levels.
Side effects that stem from a shortage of Estrogen in your body may include hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep, dryness in your vaginal area, a decrease in your sex drive, mood swings, and dry skin. You may also experience migraines.
Some methods of Estrogen administration can also come with their own side effects. For example, an oral tablet or suppository may cause bloating, tenderness in the breasts, and nausea. Those who use the patch may notice redness in their skin or skin irritation, nausea, and fluid retention.
Overall, women may experience an upset stomach, cramping, and headaches.
Because a lot of these side effects can also be symptoms and just general discomfort with pregnancy, it can be difficult to know if there’s a serious problem.
Your doctor will keep a close eye on your Estrogen levels. If they see anything out of the ordinary, it is up to you to inform them of any side effects that you believe may be attributed to Estrogen.
While Estrogen may help with thickening the lining of the uterus, it’s Progesterone that will make the uterus yet even more ready for the embryo.
Progesterone is a hormone that has the vital role of producing nutrients that will feed and nourish the embryo once it is transplanted.
Without it, the baby will not receive the nutrients that it needs. This can make the embryo transfer fail.
You typically start taking Progesterone a few days before the embryo transfer is supposed to take place. This drug will continue to be taken up until the 12th week of pregnancy.
At that point, the placenta takes over in producing the necessary nutrients. This hormone also helps produce the glands in the breast for producing milk. Progesterone just further helps the pregnancy become stable.
This drug can be taken through different means much like Estrogen. You may be told to take it via a pill or even a suppository. There is even a gel option that can be applied to the skin.
However, the most popular choice is usually an injection into the muscle. The needle that is used is larger than the one with Lupron.
As such, for this injection, you may want your partner or significant other to help you!
Much like Estrogen, Progesterone comes with a few chances for side effects that are usually due to how much Progesterone is in the body.
Some of the side effects that you may experience are bleeding, menstrual cramps, bloating which can be due to water gain, moodiness, dizziness, dry mouth, irritability, tiredness, and nausea.
Rarer side effects may include fainting, tenderness in the breasts, difficulty in sleeping, headaches that may be severe, or problems with your vision.
Similar to Estrogen, if side effects arise due to Progesterone, they can usually be taken care of by limiting or increasing the amount that is in the body.
Interestingly enough, Aspirin may also help your body to successfully implant the embryo.
While some argue that Aspirin can actually increase the chances of a miscarriage, other studies have shown that baby Aspirin can encourage platelet activity.
This is especially important in surrogate mothers who are at risk of developing pre-eclampsia. The use of Aspirin during the pregnancy saw the chances of pre-eclampsia developing decrease.
However, because Aspirin can be quite polarizing, not all fertility clinics will suggest the use of it. If you are prescribed Aspirin, then you will take it as an oral tablet during the initial 12 weeks of the pregnancy.
The side effects associated with Aspirin are usually quite mild. Yet you may experience heartburn, an upset stomach, or the possibility of easy bruising.
Another antibiotic that you may be prescribed to take is Tetracycline.
This antibiotic is effective in treating sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. It’s also effective in treating infections that you may receive from animals or contaminated food.
Tetracycline is taken as an oral pill and its prescribed to be used during the days before an embryo transfer.
Its use will further help reduce the chances of the pelvis becoming infected and can make the embryo transfer just that much more successful.
The most common side effect of Tetracycline is a sensitivity to sunlight.
However, there are rarer side effects, too.
Some of these include pain in the abdomen, headaches, a decrease in your appetite, vomiting as well as nausea, changes in your vision, and yellowing skin.
Medrol is a steroid that is used to help suppress the autoimmune system.
By so doing, it makes the embryo implantation far more successful.
In some cases, the body can treat the inserted embryo as a foreign invader. The autoimmune system will send out antibodies to fight the embryo and potentially kill it.
By suppressing the autoimmune system, the embryo will be recognized as part of the body and it will be allowed to grow and develop within the body.
Administration of Medrol is taken through an oral pill and it is prescribed before an embryo transfer.
Side effects of Medrol are rare. Yet there are some risks. Hypertension may occur due to sodium retention in the body. This can cause heart failure.
You may also experience muscle weakness or a general decrease in your muscle mass. Your skin may become more delicate during the use of Medrol.
For example, it may become thin and you may sweat more than you do normally. Finally, you may also experience headaches.
Much like an intended mother, the surrogate must also take prenatal vitamins. These will be taken before the transfer as well as throughout the pregnancy.
This just further ensures that both the embryo and the surrogate receive all of the nutrients that they need. Prenatal vitamins ensure that the baby is growing and developing healthily.
They can be taken orally.
There are some possible side effects for prenatal vitamins as well. Some of the most common are constipation, nausea, diarrhea, or an upset stomach.
How many vitamins you take and which ones you need to focus on will be up to your body and the doctor.
Tips And Tricks
Clearly, there are quite a few medications that you will need to take as a surrogate.
It may seem daunting, but your intended parents, fertility doctor, and all of your support system will be there to help you with them all.
After finding the perfect surrogacy agency in California (Made in the USA Surrogacy) you can be equipped with a few tips and tricks on how to take the medications a lot easier and have answers to any other surrogacy related questions you have!
No matter whether your partner is administering the medication or you’re doing it yourself, the space around you should encourage nothing but peace and tranquility.
If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate with Made in the USA Surrogacy- please fill out our form, we would love to have you!