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Surrogacy and Mental Health Awareness

We've just come to the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, 13 May to 19 May 2024 and mental health shouldn't just be on our minds one week of the year but every day of the year. How can we help family, friends, work colleagues who may be struggling and lend a helping hand?

We have a personal insight into surrogacy and how we can protect our mental health whilst going through a surrogacy journey. Surrogacy and infertility can add pressure onto families and individuals. It can be important to seek support from family and friends, and other intended parents. Some women have struggled for years prior to undertaking a surrogacy journey with miscarriage, stillbirth, baby loss, embryo loss, failed transfers and repeated IVF cycles. That can take its toll and leads to disappointment, frustration and sadness.

Age can be a frustrating factor as couples may not be getting any younger and may feel that they need to act quickly to freeze eggs, collect sperm, create embryos or find that special surrogate to help them to develop a family. The quantity of a women's eggs can decrease as she gets older and the quality of those eggs can decline with age. That can put pressure on a family.

Finances can also be an issue. There is a cost to IVF and surrogacy with private clinics in the UK. Surrogacy UK suggests a cost range for Surrogacy expenses of between £7000 to £15000. Every situation is however different and some surrogates may require childcare, may have loss of income expenses, travel expenses. There can be the costs of IVF, egg collections, embryo creation or failed embryo transfers with fertility clinics.

Some women can carry feelings of shame and guilt at not being able to carry a pregnancy to term. Couples can experience significant anxiety and emotional distress. A round of fertility treatment may not produce the desired outcome and this can be difficult to process.

We started exploring surrogacy as an option to develop our family in 2017. We thought at that time that one round of IVF would be enough. It wasn't as we only had one embryo from the first round. We completed a second round and had another two embryos. We thought one embryo transfer would work. In 2018, we attempted embryo transfer twice with our surrogate and we didn't have the outcome we were hoping for. In 2020, we had a worldwide COVID pandemic. In 2021, another surrogate offered to help us and we had a positive outcome in 2022 from our first embryo transfer. In 2023, our baby boy was born.

There were highs, there were lows, our emotions were on a rollercoaster. There were anxious times, disappointment. loss, frustration. The waiting game was difficult as we felt that we needed to act quickly but some actions were out of our control leading to a feeling of helplessness.

It can be important to talk and open up to others about how you are feeling. Seek counselling if you need to chat to a professional. Become a member of a Surrogacy organisation. We were members of Surrogacy UK and found that we had help and support at our fingertips from our surrogacy friends and they could easily identify with how we were feeling.

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