On Top of Your Screenings!
Becoming a surrogate is a major life change to consider. One of the ways that you can determine if you’re ready for this step is by setting up appointments with your primary care provider (PCP) and your OB/GYN provider to ensure that all of your preventative screenings are up to date.
Here is a short list of some of the tests that might be recommended for you as you start preparing for surrogacy.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Ah, the dreaded Pap smear. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has released recommendations for testing frequency based on age and prior history of abnormal tests. However, during your medical records review, an IVF provider may ask that you have had a Pap test in the last year. Your provider also has the option of adding HPV testing to the sample that’s collected.
If you’ve had a Pap test in the 12 months prior to applying to become a surrogate, and the result was abnormal, you will need to set up and attend any follow-up recommended by your providers. There are situations that would rule you out as a surrogate, but for the most part, once you’ve done all of the necessary follow-up, you’ll be cleared to proceed.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolic rate, among other functions. Thyroid function can also impact fertility and ongoing pregnancy rates. Providers can get a good snapshot of how the thyroid gland is performing by ordering a test to check thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). A TSH level up to 5.0 is considered normal, but there is some evidence to suggest that ongoing pregnancy rates are better in people with unexplained infertility whose level is below 2.5. This is something that the IVF clinic you’re working with will discuss with you, and they may recommend that you take a medication to keep your thyroid function under stricter control.
Most adults received vaccines for rubella (German measles) and varicella (chicken pox) when they were children. In some cases, this immunity wears off, which would increase your risk of transmitting these illnesses. Both rubella and varicella can cause significant birth defects, and even miscarriage or stillbirth, if they are contracted in pregnancy. The vaccines for rubella and varicella are made with very weak forms of the viruses that, when injected, cause the immune system to respond in a similar way to what would happen if there were a real exposure. The weakened virus has been proven not to be harmful, but because it is still alive, it’s recommended that it not be administered to pregnant women. Again, the IVF clinic you’ll be working with will check your immunity levels during your screening, but knowing ahead of time can save you a little bit of time.
Vitamin D Screening
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to higher risks of miscarriage and pregnancy loss. The majority of vitamin D synthesis happens when the sun’s UV rays trigger a chemical reaction in the skin. In this area of the world, sunlight can be in short supply, so most people who live here year-round are likely to have lower levels of vitamin D in their system. Getting screened for vitamin D deficiency can be an important part of pre-conception preparation. Adding other sources of vitamin D from foods or supplements prior to pregnancy may protect you from the risk of a negative outcome.
Talking with your medical providers about your plans for surrogacy can help you ensure that you’re at your healthiest before you even match with an intended parent. You can be confident that your body is at its peak ability to handle the journey by following the recommendations your doctors can provide.