Unless the surrogate is a traditional surrogate, meaning she will become pregnant via artificial insemination using her own egg, you will need to form embryos through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Since centers vary with regard to their experience and expertise in the IVF process, it is important for you to select a center best suited to your needs. While the task of selecting a center can feel daunting, there are many resources available to guide you. If you have an existing relationship with an IVF Center, speak with your doctor to determine his or her experience with surrogate pregnancies and ask whether he or she feels qualified to assist with this process. If you were matched with a surrogate through a matching program, ask the program coordinators if they feel your center is a good option and whether they have additional recommendations.
Prior to committing to an IVF center, there are a number of factors to consider:
- The size of the center. Some intended parents prefer to work with a small center believing that the doctors and staff will be more accessible. Others prefer a larger center connected to a university or hospital since such a center may offer a wider range of sophisticated services.
- Center hours. Is the center open after your work hours and on the weekends? Given the number of center appointments and the sensitive timing of some medical procedures, this can be important criteria.
- Services provided. Some patients require more complex medical procedures which are not uniformly available.
- Board certified doctors. Your doctor should be certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Ideally your doctor will have also received additional training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
- Costs. Will the center accept your insurance? Do you have insurance coverage for the desired services? What are the costs of the various procedures and what is the required payment schedule?
- IVF Center success rates. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mandates that all IVF centers report their statistics annually (although there is a two-year delay before those statistics are publicly available). While it’s important for you to consider the centers IVF success rates, you should educate yourself as to the significance of those statistics. For example, since IVF center success rates are dependent on the patients’ medical history, a center may have a lower success rate because it is willing to accept more challenging cases. Other centers may have higher IVF success rates because they decline to work with certain patients for fear of jeopardizing their statistics.
- SART membership. Is the IVF Center a member of SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology)? An IVF center can only gain admission to SART if they meet specific criteria including designated experience, physician and laboratory certification requirements, mandatory cycle reporting, and adherence to ASRM/SART Guidelines relating to ethical and medical practice, advertising, and laboratory requirements.
- Better Business Bureau. Check out the center online to see if it’s been rated by the Bureau. While many large businesses have some negative reviews, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask the center to provide you with their version of any posted criticisms.
- Patient recommendations. Never underestimate the value of obtaining recommendations from other patients based on their personal experience.
While it’s important to do your “due diligence” before selecting an IVF Center, your own observations of the physicians and staff are also critical. If you are fortunate to have a number of center options, do not hesitate to select the center you feel will be the most accessible and sensitive to the emotional journey you are about to undertake.