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Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy is becoming a common practice for women who are physically unable to carry a pregnancy to term on their own. Gestational surrogacy involves taking embryos created by a couple (the intended parents) and implanting them into the uterus of a gestational carrier (surrogate) to carry the pregnancy. The surrogate is compensated for their time, travel and related pregnancy expenses. The embryos remain the same genetic makeup and biological offspring of the persons who provided the eggs and sperm to create the embryos. The embryos are then implanted into the surrogate who carries the pregnancy to term and delivers the baby for them. There are many reasons why a couple may require a surrogate in order to have a baby, these include:

Absence of uterus- The female intended parent may have been required to have an early hysterectomy for gynecological or medical reasons and no longer has a uterus which is required to carry a pregnancy. An example of this is when a patient who is pregnant experiences a life threatening uterine rupture during childbirth requiring an emergency c-section. A patient who has had a previous c-section and decides to give birth vaginally (VBAC) is at risk for a uterine rupture at the site of the previous scar. This is why many physicians prefer caesarian delivery if the patient previously delivered by caesarian. Uterine rupture can also be caused my medications routinely used to speed up the labor process however this is more rare. In addition, a male same sex couple may also require a surrogate due to a physical absence of a uterus.  A woman can be born with an absent uterus.

Recurrent miscarriage and pregnancy loss- Many women have experienced a miscarriage in their lifetime. However some women have had a devastatingly high number of miscarriages and although their embryos may be genetically normal, their body is unable to carry a pregnancy. Multiple late term losses after 12 weeks of gestation due to an incompetent cervix are also a reason to use a gestational carrier. Some women may have experienced loss due to a very short or incompetent cervix meaning the cervix dilates early thus sending the patient into labor before the baby is able to survive outside the womb. Recurrent miscarriage and pregnancy loss can be extremely traumatizing and emotional for the patient.  For these patients, choosing to use a surrogate can be very beneficial not only physically but emotionally as well.

Medical, genetic problems and infectious diseases- Some patients have serious medical conditions in which pregnancy is contraindicated. For example; if the patient was to become pregnant it could result in the loss of life for the mother and or the baby due to their complicated medical condition. The patient may also be on a medication which is not suitable during pregnancy or a required medication which is known to cause birth defects. Certain genetic conditions and infectious diseases may also be the reason a couple would choose to use a surrogate.

Traditional Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy is another type of surrogacy in which an egg donor donates eggs but also carries the pregnancy to term. The surrogate is inseminated with the intended patient’s sperm. This differs from gestational surrogacy because the surrogate is also offering to donate her genetic material (eggs) as well. The couple (intended parents) must then adopt the child once it is born. This type of surrogacy is less commonly used due to legal reasons and the legal problems it may cause. Unfortunately for legal reasons in the state of Florida, we only offer gestational surrogacy and not traditional surrogacy to our patients.

 

How to find a surrogate

There are many ways to find a surrogate. The surrogate can be someone known to the couple trying to conceive for example a friend or family member. Another option is to use an agency to find a surrogate. Surrogacy agencies have large databases of potential surrogates which are healthy and have applied to become gestational carriers for another couple. Unfortunately, some agencies can be very expensive in addition to the fees compensated to the surrogate so it is best to look around at several options.

Although we are not a surrogacy agency, we do have a small database of potential surrogates which have applied through our program. If one of our patients is looking for a surrogate we can put them in touch with the potential surrogates at no charge.

Choosing a good surrogate

A good surrogate is someone who is healthy, financially and emotionally stable and has had prior pregnancies which were delivered to term without complications. Some people also take into consideration lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, marital status and occupation when choosing a surrogate. In addition, there are many other factors in which a couple may desire in their surrogate which can be discussed when starting the process of looking for a surrogate.

Legal and Financial Considerations

Legal contracts are required for anyone using a gestational surrogacy. These contacts must be drawn up by an experienced attorney who preferably specializes in family law. Legal contracts protect both the intended parents as well as the surrogate. The legal documents also define the compensation schedule which is paid to the surrogate. The compensation fees for surrogacy are based on what the surrogate is willing to accept for payment as well as any agency fees. Fees for surrogacy can range anywhere from 10,000-150,000.

Become a surrogate

If you are interested in helping a couple in need, please contact kim@assistedfertility.org