While infertility treatments such as IVF, ICSI, and egg donation can help infertile couples produce an embryo, pregnancy may still not be an option for a woman whose uterus is missing or badly damaged, who would face life-threatening risks if she carried a child to term, or who cannot produce eggs for fertilization. For these women, surrogacy may be the best option, since it allows a couple to parent a child genetically related to them without the medical risks of pregnancy. A surrogate mother carries the fetus to term. Then, when the baby is born, she relinquishes her parental rights to the child and turns him or her over to the intended parents.
Traditional surrogacy is most often used for couples where the woman cannot provide eggs for fertilization. Instead, the surrogate provides the egg, and the intended father (or an anonymous sperm donor) provides the sperm. The fetus is therefore genetically related to the surrogate. The sperm is joined with the egg inside the surrogate's body through artificial insemination or assisted reproductive technology procedures.
Gestational surrogacy is a good option for women who can produce eggs for fertilization but who cannot carry a child to term. In gestational surrogacy, the sperm and eggs are provided by the intended parents or by sperm or egg donors, excluding the surrogate. The eggs are inseminated with IVF, and the resulting embryo is transferred to the surrogate's uterus in an embryo transfer procedure. The embryo is therefore not genetically related to the surrogate.
In addition to covering their own ART costs, intended parents cover all the expenses of a surrogate's pregnancy and related fees. Depending on the agency a couple uses, surrogate fees can be in the $38,000 to $54,000 range, sometimes more or less. Services and approximate fees can include:
Surrogate screening and counseling, surrogate's transportation, maternity clothes, lost wages, insurance, and miscellaneous agency and attorney fees.
Surrogacy and Fertilization Procedures
Artificial insemination procedures are less costly and invasive when compared to assisted reproductive technology. These procedures involve the injection of sperm into the female reproductive tract.
- Intracervical insemination: In the intracervical insemination procedure, the sperm is injected into the cervix.
- Intrauterine insemination: In the intrauterine insemination procedure, the sperm is injected into the uterus.
Assisted reproductive technology procedures involve the manipulation of both the sperm and egg. The most popular assisted reproductive technology procedures include:
- In vitro fertilization: In this procedure, fertility drugs are used to stimulate the development of multiple ovarian follicles. Next the eggs are removed from the body and inseminated with sperm. Next, viable embryos are transferred to the uterine cavity.
- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection: The intracytoplasmic sperm injection is similar to in vitro fertilization. However, instead of combining the sperm and the egg, the sperm is injected into the center of the egg.
Contact a Surrogacy Expert
If you are considering surrogacy, you need the support and guidance of a qualified local infertility specialist. Find an experienced infertility doctor in your area who can provide exceptional care.