What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a medical technique, where a woman agrees to carry the baby for another couple in her womb. It is a hope for millions of couples around the world whose female partner is unable to carry pregnancy or give birth due to certain medical conditions, such as:
- Absence/removal of uterus
- Scarring of uterus
- Unexplained miscarriages
- Recurrent IVF implantation failure
- Medical condition forbids pregnancy and birth (heart, cancer, or other ailments etc.)
- Same-sex couples
The three common terms used in a surrogacy process are:
- Surrogate mother: The woman who offers her womb to carry your baby.
- Intended parents: The couple who is the biological parent (also the legal) of the baby.
- Surrogate baby: Your baby born through the process of surrogacy.
There are two types of surrogacy – traditional and gestational. Both have their own significance linked to the intended parents.
This kind of surrogacy is less demanding in terms of cost structure, though it is not so common. Under this procedure the surrogate mother is impregnated with semen from the intended father or sperm donor while her own eggs are used. This implies that the child would be genetically related to the surrogate mother. The insemination process can be carried out at home via an insemination kit, or can also be done by a fertility clinic.
A more popular and successful method, it entails In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with the eggs of either the intended mother or a donor’s as the case may be. Hence, the surrogate mother is not genetically linked to the child. This kind of surrogacy is more expensive compared to the traditional one, as it is medically more demanding and complicated.
Broadly, gestational surrogacy is a three-step process:
First, is the egg donation – which can be either from the intended mother or the egg donor who undergo the egg retrieval procedure.
Second, is the fertilization of the egg – the eggs and sperm are combined together for fertilization in a laboratory to produce embryos. This takes about three to five days.
Third, is the embryo transfer phase – under this the fertilized egg or embryo is transferred to the surrogate mother’s uterus. If the implantation succeeds, the surrogate mother gets pregnant with the surrogate baby and carries to term.
A fertilized egg is either implanted in the surrogate mother’s womb when it is recently fertilized, or once it has been taken from cryogenic storage and thawed. For cases involving a fresh embryo transfer hormonal pills are administered at the same time to intended mother (egg donor) and the surrogate to match and tally their cycles. In cases where the embryos have been thawed, several fertility clinics suggest that the surrogate is given hormonal medication to put in order the lining of her uterus/womb ready for the transfer.
In both kinds of surrogacy the surrogate mother goes through a thorough health screening and tests. The success of the process depends on factors, such as the surrogate’s ability to get pregnant, age of egg donor, and the quality of gamete provided by the couple.