If you are in the early stages of medical screening with your surrogate, or if you’re engaged in any online surrogacy research or chat groups, you have probably heard the term “mock cycle.” Since requirements for the mock cycle vary across fertility clinics and individual surrogates, you may have some lingering questions about this topic. Read on for some helpful information about what to expect.
(Learn more about the entire surrogacy process on our website.)
First, let’s define this process. Simply put, a mock cycle is a trial run of medications for your surrogate, typically occurring prior to her medical clearance. This is different from the medication cycle that precedes an embryo transfer, because it does not lead to an embryo transfer at the end. Instead, it’s a preparatory step that is ordered for your surrogate by the fertility doctor to help gauge your surrogates response.
Mock cycles can and do look different and last for varying lengths of time (anywhere from a few weeks to one month), depending on the doctor who is ordering them. In every case, though, surrogates will take some or all of the same hormonal medications that they will also take during the actual embryo transfer cycle.
Bodily responses to the mock cycle medications are monitored throughout the cycle as well. Ultrasounds measure how the medications are impacting the uterine lining, while lab work measures the surrogate’s hormone levels.
Once the medications have achieved the desired results, the mock cycle ends, and your surrogate is considered ready to move forward with an embryo transfer.
Since your surrogate takes the same medications she will eventually take for the embryo transfer, the mock cycle helps to ensure that her body will respond appropriately to the medications when it’s “go” time.
Is her uterine lining thickening appropriately and at the desired or expected rate? Are her hormone levels changing appropriately? Do dosages of certain medications need to be adjusted? Being able to answer these questions with hard data (i.e., ultrasound and lab results) gives your doctor the opportunity to individualize your surrogate’s later treatment plan. It can also help everyone (including you) to feel more confident that the process is likely to go smoothly during the “real” cycle, hopefully resulting in a pregnancy!
Not necessarily. Many clinics evaluate the surrogate’s uterine lining during the medical work-up, at a specific point during her menstrual cycle. If her lining is appropriately thick at that time, your doctor may determine that a mock cycle is not necessary for her. Her body may already be showing signs of being able to achieve the changes that are needed to support a pregnancy, which is great news!
If your surrogate does require a mock cycle, however, remember that it is simply a helpful tool for your doctor. Rest assured, most surrogates do “pass” the mock cycle and go onto the embryo transfer stage.
Unless your fertility clinic requires a mock cycle for every surrogate and factors those expenses into your overall fees, definitely expect to pay extra for this process. Your surrogate will be completing medical appointments and also taking extra medications, so there will be additional charges. The total cost will vary depending on your clinic’s protocol for the mock cycle (types of medications ordered; length of the cycle; number of monitoring appointments; etc). Regardless, though, if the mock cycle ultimately leads to a successful embryo transfer cycle, you may still have saved money in the long run.
Insurance coverage for surrogacy medical expenses generally takes effect once your surrogate is released to her OB for regular prenatal care. Any fertility-related treatments (like the mock cycle) that take place prior to that point are typically not covered by insurance. Learn more about insurance and surrogacy by reading the below articles.
Once you are moving toward medical clearance for your surrogate, your ConceiveAbilities Match Manager will make sure that you are fully informed about your surrogate’s next steps and your clinic’s plan for her care, whether that plan includes a mock cycle or not. Together, you will then all move forward toward the ultimate goal of building your family successfully!
Written By Lori Jurecko
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.