There are so many stories about surrogates and why they choose to be a gestational carrier. As the idea of surrogacy becomes more mainstream, education about the surrogacy process is getting out there. Part of this is learning about the different types of surrogate tests.
What is a Gestational Surrogate?
A gestational surrogate is a woman who decides to carry a baby for someone who needs her help. A gestational surrogate is also known as a gestational carrier.
Reputable surrogacy agencies require that a surrogate has given birth to her own children. The birth of her children must have had no complications.
A gestational carrier does not have any biological ties to the surrogate baby. The egg used is either from the intending mother or an egg donor. The embryo created is implanted into her uterus through a procedure called in vitro fertilization.
Surrogacy is an arrangement between surrogates and intending parents. A gestational surrogate carries a baby for a person or couple who could not otherwise have children on their own.
Surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics use the guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in the screening for surrogates.
The recommended age of a gestational surrogate is a woman who is within the range of 21 to 45. As mentioned before, agencies require that an applicant has had at least one child with no complications.
Other surrogate requirements include the following:
- Full-term pregnancy
- No more than five natural deliveries
- Cesareans not to exceed two
- Family support in the home
Agencies also require that a surrogate have at least one child living at home.
Medical Screening and Tests
A part of the surrogacy process is medical screening for the surrogate. In addition to paperwork from her doctors, she will need some other tests. Each fertility clinic has their own surrogate test process, but here are the most likely tests.
This initial testing includes a medical history and physical exam, pap smear and urine drug test for surrogacy. In addition to these tests, the doctor will also need to screen the surrogate for some common and serious infectious diseases. Most of these are through a blood test, but the doctor will also take a swab of the cervix to look for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The tests included in the screening include the following:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
It is also important to check the surrogates blood type and RH Factor to ensure that her blood type will be compatible with that of intended father and the baby. Finally, the levels of certain hormones, like thyroid hormone and prolactin are also checked.
A fertility clinic may include other screenings not mentioned on this list. Before a woman becomes a surrogate, she must be cleared for her own safety as well as for the baby she carries for her intending parents.
It’s normal that the term psychological screening can make someone nervous. It’s important to remember that this meeting is also to help a surrogate applicant. The questions asked will determine if she wants to be a surrogate, and whether the she has a strong support system to help her through the pregnancy and recovery.
Surrogacy takes a lot of dedication. She needs to realize this from the very start. She also needs to understand the importance of honesty and open communication.
A psychologist or social worker specializing in third-party reproduction conducts this interview with her and her partner, if applicable. They will want to know if an applicant has ever had any psychological challenges. And if so, what were they and how were they resolved.
The therapist will also talk about things to consider before becoming a surrogate. This meeting is a time to think and reflect.
Drug Test for Surrogacy
The drug test for surrogacy is important. Using drugs during pregnancy can be very harmful to the developing baby. The parents and medical team caring for the surrogate will want to be sure that there is nothing preventable that could hurt the baby.
If any of the substances in the drug test for surrogacy test positive, she will not be eligible to become a surrogate. There may be some exceptions made in very limited circumstances. For example, if she tested positive for an opioid pain reliever because of a prescribed pain pill taken after a dental procedure, she may still be allowed to be a surrogate, though she will still need to pass at least one (if not more) drug tests before being allowed to proceed.
The Bottom Line
The surrogate test process is an important one. It helps to determine whether a potential surrogate is medically able to carry a pregnancy, and psychologically healthy enough to carry that pregnancy for someone else. The goal is to do everything possible to ensure a healthy and happy pregnancy for everyone involved in the process.