Over the last decade, surrogacy has become more popular and accessible in different countries. This form of family building gives intended parents (IPs) the ability to start their own families. They may wish to use surrogacy if they have a medical diagnosis that requires it or a personal situation, such as being a single male or a part of a same-sex male couple. IPs can choose traditional surrogacy or gestational surrogacy. Most decide to use gestational surrogacy because it is less risky legally.
The principal difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy is that the surrogate in traditional surrogacy carries the baby using her own eggs fertilized with the partner or donor sperm.
The history of surrogacy is relatively short. Modern surrogacy has only been around the last 30 years. In 1980, the first agreement for surrogacy was completed, which was an arrangement between a traditional surrogate and the intended parents. Since then, at least 5,000 children have been born by surrogacy in the US.
Families who are thinking about starting surrogacy want to know its success rate. Intended parents who already have had fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) understand how important success rates can be.
Surrogacy success rates are not as simple as the raw data suggests. Not only are there a myriad of factors to consider, but government agencies and clinics do not always report statistics consistently.
Surrogacy selection criteria
Surrogacy candidates must meet certain selection criteria. Success rates for surrogacy depend on many factors, including the surrogate’s ability to get pregnant. All potential gestational carriers must have given birth successfully at least one time.
The age of the woman whose eggs are being used more than the age of the surrogate mother is probably the most critical factor in gestational surrogacy. The father's sperm quality also is important, especially if he was diagnosed with a male fertility issue.
Age affects the quality of embryo production and success rates for surrogacy. The gestational carrier should ideally be between 21-40 years old. Traditional surrogate mother candidates providing their eggs and who are over 35 years of age may have oocytes that produce embryos with chromosomal disorders.
The age of the woman who will be a gestational surrogate is not as crucial as it is for traditional surrogacy because she will not be a genetic contributor. Usually, IPs choose a surrogate for personal and related characteristics. It is essential to consider surrogate candidates based on their pregnancy preferences, lifestyle, and personality as well as their age. The age of the woman who provides the egg is the most important factor determining the chances of pregnancy.
Surrogacy success statistics
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculates success rates for various fertility clinics and assisted reproductive technologies (ART). The CDC monitors ART using a system called the National Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance System, or NASS 2.0, for every cycle performed in the US. IVF clinics in the US have a surrogacy success rate of about 75%. Once the surrogate is pregnant, the success rate for a healthy birth is as high as 95%. Still, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) notes that “success varies with many factors.”
Finally, as with every assisted reproductive technology, the greatest probability of success will come from an IVF procedure where the sperm donor has had a thorough medical evaluation, the egg donor is young and has proven fertility, and where the surrogate is also young and has met rigorous fertility criteria. Success rates using fresh embryos and frozen embryos are now about the same thanks to new freezing techniques.