Surrogacy: Risks and Complications for Recipients

Surrogacy can be an option for couples that want children but cannot conceive naturally. A surrogate mother may be chosen to carry a child that will be adopted by the intended parents. Surrogacy can be a fulfilling experience for a few women, but there are also a few risks and complications that can occur during and after a surrogacy experience.

Rejection of the Sperm

A surrogate mother may be artificially inseminated with the sperm of an anonymous donor or the intended father of the future baby. It may happen that the surrogate mother rejects the sperm. This may be due to:

  • The quality of the sperm (which may be damaged while frozen)
  • An incompatibility with the surrogate mother, which may be fertile, but will reject the sperm from that particular donor. This cannot be predicted.
  • The uterine lining of the surrogate mother
  • The unsuitable hormonal levels of the surrogate mother. To prevent this, a hormonal therapy is highly recommended prior to a surrogacy.

Rejection of the Embryo

The implanted embryo may be rejected the same way the sperm can be rejected. This is also due to the fact that during the freezing period, the quality of the embryo may be affected.


Even if the sperm or embryo is accepted by the surrogate mother, this is not a guarantee that the pregnancy won’t have other complications. A miscarriage may be a potential risk for surrogate mothers. This may be due to different factors that cannot be predicted, but may also be due to the unsuitable lifestyle of the mother.

To ensure the healthy development of the fetus, the surrogate mother has to get periodical checkups or visit the gynecologist if there are any abnormal symptoms, such as bleeding.

Stillborn Baby

Another possible risk of surrogacy is that the baby is stillborn. The baby should be monitored and ultrasounds can indicate if there is movement in the surrogate mother’s uterus.

Multiple Pregnancies

If artificial insemination is used, it may happen that the surrogate mother may be pregnant with several babies. If the intended parents only want 1 baby, they may decide on the abortion of the additional fetuses, which can carry a lot of risks both for the surrogate mother and the fetuses. This issue should be discussed prior to the surrogacy.

Congenital Defects

It may happen that the baby has congenital defects. Some of these may be detected by performing an ultrasound, but the baby may not be entirely visible and the defect may be hidden and visible only after the baby is born.

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