Surrogacy is an infertility treatment option whereby a woman carries and delivers a child for another person or couple. Surrogacy involves an established agreement between all parties involved that the carrier of the child is not a legal parent of the child. As a result, surrogacy can be an extremely emotional process for all parties involved with the procedure. Patients considering surrogacy as a treatment option should be sure to discuss the emotional impact prior to undergoing treatment.
The surrogacy procedure is similar to the regular IVF procedure, depending on who provides the eggs and sperm. Surrogacy can either be traditional or gestational. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother uses her own eggs and is therefore genetically related to the child. The eggs are fertilized with the intended father’s sperm most often by means of intrauterine insemination (IUI). Traditional surrogacy is not a widely used as gestational surrogacy because of the legal ramifications around being a ‘genetic mother.’ With the development of IVF with ICSI Microinjection, a surrogate mother is not always genetically related to the unborn child.
Gestational surrogacy is when a man and woman provide their sperm and eggs to fertilize an embryo that is then implanted into the surrogate mother. As a result, the surrogate has no biological relation to the baby, but is merely carrying the pregnancy. Surrogacy with egg donation is another method in which donated eggs are fertilized with the father’s sperm and the surrogate mother holds no genetic relation to the child.
A surrogate mother can be a friend, a family member or a voluntary stranger. During the surrogacy procedure, the intended parents may provide their own eggs and sperm or, in cases of certain female fertility factors, donated sperm and/or eggs are used for fertilization.
Commercial surrogacy is the term applied to a surrogate mother who receives compensation for her service. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in many parts of the world. Most surrogate mothers do not receive compensation, which is altruism surrogacy.
Good candidates for surrogacy are women without a functioning uterus. Whether a female has a disease in which carrying a pregnancy could be life-threatening or she has experienced irreparable trauma, women with uterus problems may still produce genetic offspring by using surrogacy. Women who can provide their own eggs but do not have a womb to carry it can still have their own children with surrogacy.
Success rates for surrogacy range broadly, depending on the age of the couple providing the sperm and eggs as well as the age of the surrogate mother.
The legality of surrogacy differs around the world and within the United States. Different states have different laws on surrogacy. Be sure to discuss legality issues with your doctor. Traveling for infertility treatments is becoming more and more popular as the costs and legality of treatments differ around the world.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.