When an infertile couple (or a single male or female) desires a family, several options present themselves. They include: egg donation, sperm donation, traditional surrogacy, gestational surrogacy, or adoption. Surrogacy is a desirable option for many intended parents because a genetic link to their child is possible, unlike adoption. For medical or genetic reasons, some intended parents need only the assistance of anonymous egg or sperm donors. In addition to securing a surrogate or egg donor, we can assist with securing donor sperm for the intended parents. Typically, our clients, rely upon Surrogacy Solutions to locate and screen egg donors and/or surrogates; to handle legal paperwork; coordinate medical care; and, most importantly, to oversee the creation of their child from prior to conception, continuously during pregnancy, and through birth and receipt of the birth certificate in their names. We handle all aspects and details of the process of creating a child through surrogacy, which provides our intended parents the freedom to focus on the joy of becoming parents.
The first infant was conceived from in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the United States in 1983. Since then, the use of IVF and related procedures (including intracytoplasmic sperm injection and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) has increased substantially. Figures from 1998 indicate that more than 20,000 live-birth deliveries resulted from assisted reproductive technology, of which 1,265 were with the assistance of gestational surrogates. Traditional surrogacy, as well as egg or sperm donation without surrogacy, account for an even larger number of births annually.
Traditional surrogacy is the process by which a woman – not the intended mother of the child – becomes pregnant with the sperm of the intended father through artificial insemination. The insemination is performed at the time of the surrogate’s natural ovulation. In some instances, a physician may prescribe an oral medication to the surrogate to ensure that ovulation occurs.
The traditional surrogate mother donates her egg for the use of the intended parents in creating their child. There is a genetic tie to the father, but not to the intended mother. Medical expenses for traditional surrogacy are dramatically less than gestational surrogacy, which involves harvesting eggs from the intended mother or a donor and fertilization outside of the surrogate’s body. Gestational surrogacy can offer the possibility of genetic links to both parents.
Oftentimes, persons using traditional surrogacy are those who are age 50 and over. This is because it is more difficult for intended parents in that age bracket to secure the services of a treating physician for the in vitro fertilization services required for gestational surrogacy. Because any physician can perform artificial insemination, the intended parents are free of the age limitations typically imposed by a physician specializing in infertility. Even so, intended parents of any age will benefit from traditional surrogacy if they are not in a position to utilize the eggs of the intended mother or one of her relatives, because of the substantial lower medical expenses.
Gestational surrogacy is the process by which intended parents use either the intended mother’s own eggs or donated eggs to create a child with the intended father’s sperm or donor sperm through in vitro fertilization. The surrogate becomes pregnant by transfer of some of the embryos into her uterus on the third or fifth day after the eggs are harvested and fertilized. The surrogate mother makes no genetic contribution to the creation of the child. Donated eggs are usually from anonymous donors, but some physicians will permit intended parents to accept eggs from the sister or other relative of the intended mother, or another person known to the intended parents. With many infertility physicians, the eggs can be fertilized by injecting a single sperm into each egg if the intended father’s sperm count or quality is poor, and donor sperm may be utilized if necessary. The embryos not used in the first transfer are then frozen for potential later use by the intended parents.
Couples using gestational surrogacy to create their family often do so because the intended mother has good egg quality, but simply cannot carry a child due to uterine problems, such as misshapen uterus, poor lining or uterine cavity quality, endometriosis, placenta accreta or increta from a prior pregnancy, or removal of the uterus. With a gestational surrogacy in that situation, the intended parents will be the genetic mother and father of their child when the intended father’s sperm is used. Additionally, even where the intended mother’s eggs cannot be used in a gestational surrogacy, regardless of whether the intended father’s sperm can be used, some couples are more comfortable with gestational surrogacy through an anonymous egg donation rather than traditional surrogacy where the surrogate would have a genetic link to their child.
A woman desiring to be an egg donor provides several eggs during one cycle to the intended parents to help them create their child. Egg donation is highly desirable for intended parents, regardless of whether the intended mother or a gestational surrogate will ultimately carry the pregnancy because the donated eggs belong solely to the intended parents immediately when the doctor harvests them from the egg donor’s ovaries. The egg donor has no claim or control over the eggs or resulting embryos, regardless of whether they will be fertilized with the sperm of the intended father or donor sperm, and regardless of whether the resulting embryos will be transferred to the uterus of the intended mother or a gestational surrogate.