Difference between Surrogacy and IVF

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Parenthood is a dream come true for everyone. But not all of them get to realize this dream without any issues. This is where Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) comes in. ART has helped several couples become parents.

IVF and surrogacy are two types of ART. They are the most preferred fertility treatments when a couple cannot get pregnant through other treatments.

Most people don’t understand what the two treatments entail and wonder if they are the same or not. This article aims to remove all your doubts regarding the two treatments and help you choose the right one for you.

Are IVF And Surrogacy The Same?

No, surrogacy and IVF are not the same and are entirely different. From the treatment to the procedures involved, both are completely different from each other.

In IVF, a woman’s eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilized with the sperm in a laboratory.

In surrogacy, a surrogate will be responsible for carrying the baby until birth. The biological parents will then get the baby from the surrogate. This method is usually preferred when the mother’s uterus is not strong enough to carry the baby to full term.

Difference Between IVF And Surrogacy Procedure

To thoroughly understand the difference between IVF and surrogacy, you should know the two treatments and their procedures.

IVF procedure

IVF is one of the most commonly practiced fertility treatments with a high success rate. This is done when the couple can’t get pregnant after a year or so of unprotected intercourse.

The whole IVF process involves a series of complex procedures that must be done with expert care to achieve the desired results. Below are the steps involved in IVF.

Ovulation induction

This is the first step of the IVF procedure, where a series of hormonal injections are administered to the female partner. These injections stimulate the ovaries to produce more mature eggs.

The women should take these injections daily for about 10–14 days, depending on their body condition.

Egg & sperm retrieval

Once the eggs mature, they are retrieved from the ovaries using a suction device inserted into the uterus through the vagina. On average, fertility doctors will be able to collect around 10 eggs during this procedure.

Women need not worry about pain as they will be administered a mild anesthetic during the procedure.

The sperm are also collected on the same day from the male partner. These sperm are washed and tested for sperm count, motility, morphology, etc. The best sperm among them is selected for fertilization.

Fertilization and embryo culture

The collected eggs and sperm are then fertilized in a lab dish. This procedure can be done in two ways:

  • Traditional IVF procedure, where the sperm and eggs are placed together in a petri dish. The sperm swim to the eggs and fertilize them on their own.
  • ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), where one sperm with the highest chance of success is selected and injected into the egg’s cytoplasm.

Once the eggs are fertilized, they are monitored for growth for about 3–5 days. Each stage of the embryo’s development will be monitored and evaluated by the embryologists.

Embryo transfer

Once the embryos reach the blastocyst stage, the best one or two embryos, with the highest chances of implantation and pregnancy, are chosen to be transferred into the uterus.

Embryo transfer can be done in two ways:

  • Fresh embryo transfer, where the embryos are transferred into the uterus within five days of fertilization.
  • Frozen embryo transfer, where the embryos are frozen (cryopreservation) and preserved for future use. This is done because when one embryo fails, they can use the other embryos in the next cycles.

Surrogacy procedure

Surrogacy is usually preferred when the female partner has some health conditions that prevent her from carrying the baby till birth. In that case, a surrogate is hired to carry the baby.

Though the surrogate is the one carrying the baby, it will have the genes of the couple. The eggs are fertilized like we saw in IVF. The only difference here is that instead of being transferred to the mother’s uterus, it will be transferred to the surrogate’s uterus.

There are two types of surrogacy couples can opt for:

  • Traditional surrogacy
  • Gestational surrogacy.

1. Traditional surrogacy

Here, the surrogate is also the biological mother of the child. The male partner’s sperm is injected into the surrogate’s uterus for fertilization.

This method is preferred when the female partner’s eggs are not of good quality. Since only one partner will be biologically related to the child, this method is usually not preferred by many couples.

2. Gestational surrogacy

Here, the sperm and egg belong to the couple seeking the treatment. The surrogate is only responsible for carrying the baby and providing a good environment for the embryo to develop. Since both partners are biologically related to the child, most couples prefer this method over the previous one.

IVF vs Surrogacy: Which Is the Better Option For You?

IVF and surrogacy are both fertility treatments that have a high chance of success. Couples can choose the right one for them by discussing with the fertility doctor and understanding their body conditions.

IVF is generally preferred when either or both partners have fertility issues. For example, when the woman has issues getting pregnant naturally or when the sperm has issues fertilizing the eggs.

Surrogacy, on the other hand, is usually preferred when the female partner has trouble conceiving. It can be chosen in cases where

  • the uterus has been removed,
  • the female partner has a history of miscarriages,
  • the uterus has some issues or defects.

Surrogacy is more complex than IVF. It involves various legal, financial, and emotional factors. Couples should discuss and choose it only when they are sure about it.

Conclusion

Be it IVF or surrogacy, both fertility treatments can make you have a child of your own. Take your health condition into account when deciding on which one to choose.

Your fertility doctor will know your body condition better than you. Consult them and choose the one they consider best for you. Stay calm and positive that you will achieve the desired result: your very own baby.

FAQs

There is no significant difference between IVF and surrogacy because both are treatments used to eventually accomplish your desire to become a parent. The main difference between the two is that the former is more hard emotionally for the parent, whereas the latter is more complex financially and legally.

Well, the answer depends on the eggs and sperm used for fertilization. If the eggs and sperm belong to the actual parent, then yes, the baby will resemble them.

However, if the couple uses donor eggs and sperm, then no, the baby might not resemble them.

Surrogate mothers can breastfeed, although the majority do not. If you believe in the benefits of breast milk, you can ask your surrogate to pump for you after the baby is born. The baby can then be fed with a bottle or a supplemental breastfeeding method.

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Picture of Dr. Rukkayal Fathima
Dr. Rukkayal Fathima

Dr Rukkayal Fathima, India's Leading Gynaecologist and the best fertility doctor in Chennai. She has 11+ years of experience and treated 1000+ patients. She finished her M. S., Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the Institute of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (Madras Medical College), Chennai. She is a visiting consultant at St. Isabelle Hospital, Motherhood Hospital, Rainbow Hospital & Mehta Hospital. Dr Rukkayal Fathima specialises in Obstetrics care, Early Pregnancy Scan, IVF, ICSI, TESA/Micro TESE, Menopause advice, Gynaecological surgeries and endoscopy. She is a Co-Founder of Hive Fertility, the Best Fertility Center in Chennai.

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