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What is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy may be defined as someone stepping in to take the place of another for a specific purpose. In the field of infertility treatments, a surrogates is a woman who offers to carry the implant in growing fetus of a woman or couple unable to carry their own children for a variety of physical reasons.

Laws regarding surrogacy differ throughout the United States and the globe, so individuals interested in the process should understand the basics of surrogacy and how it works.

Surrogacy Basics

Surrogates can be divided into two categories: natural surrogates and IVF surrogates.

IVF surrogacy - Also known as a gestational carriers or full surrogates, are women who carry the egg and sperm of a genetic couple, and who was not commonly related to the child in any way.

Natural surrogacy - Also known as a traditional or straight surrogate is a person who is inseminated with the sperm of the male partner of an infertile couple, producing a child who is genetically related to the male partner and the surrogate, but not to the male partner's wife or female partner.

Who Benefits from Surrogacy?

A woman or couple who is unable to carry a fertilized egg through fetal development, pregnancy and delivery may benefit from surrogacy. Reasons for a woman's inability to carry a child full term may be caused by medical conditions, low egg production, a women whose uterus is damaged or incapable of carrying a term pregnancy, or an individual diagnosed with kidney disease, heart disease, or even diabetes, or women who has experienced more than one miscarriage.

Types of Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy is often recommended to women who have very low functioning ovaries, women who may risk passing genetic disease processes onto infants, or as with IVF surrogacy, women suffering from a variety of medical conditions that may cause life threatening potential during pregnancy or delivery. The process involves a woman surrogate who donates her egg to be inseminated with the father's sperm to produce a fertilized egg, which is then implanted in the female.

Gestational surrogacy involves the arrangements between parents of a child, or sperm and egg donation to another woman who agrees to carry the embryo through the pregnancy process. This surrogate has no biological relationship to the child. Gestational surrogates utilizes embryos fertilized through in Vitro fertilization technologies and often involve PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) to ensure success.

Egg donors are commonly utilized between intended parents of a child and a woman who agrees to carry the embryo of an anonymous third party donor and the sperm of the intended father. The surrogate carries the fetus as a host, with no biological ties between the surrogate and the fetus. This type of surrogate is also known as a gestational carrier.

Surrogates are generally recommended to be younger than 38 years old, and do not smoke, use drugs, drink alcohol, or have any history of medical disorders or conditions that may hinder or harm optimal health of the fetus. Psychological examinations or evaluations are also typically conducted to determine optimal surrogates.


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