Surrogacy is when a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for another individual who wishes to have a child but cannot do so naturally or with the help of other fertility treatment.
Some women have medical conditions that make it impossible or dangerous for them to get pregnant and give birth, although they may have healthy eggs in their ovaries. For example:
- Women born without a womb, or with a womb which is abnormally developed
- Women who have had a hysterectomy (removal of the womb) e.g. for treatment of cancer from which they have fully recovered
- Women who have a damaged womb lining e.g. following severe scraping of the womb which has caused scarring
- Women who have had many miscarriages
- Women who have had many unsuccessful attempts at fertility treatment e.g. in vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Women with severe medical conditions for whom a pregnancy could be dangerous e.g. Heart or kidney disease.
Surrogacy is also an option for male same-sex couples or single men who wish to have a family.
How successful is surrogacy?
The success rates for surrogacy vary depending upon a number of factors including:
- The most important factor is the age of the woman whose eggs are being used. The younger the egg the higher the chance of success.
- The quality of the father’s or donor’s sperm
- The surrogate’s ability to get pregnant
Does the age of the surrogate matter?
If you are using your own eggs it is your age that affects the success rates. Likewise, if you are using a donor’s eggs, it is her age that matters . Even if you are not using your surrogate’s eggs, her age is important because as a woman gets older, pregnancy can become more complicated with higher risks to her For example, high blood pressure and diabetes in pregnancy are more common in mothers who are older than 35 years.
What preparations are needed for surrogacy?
The counsellors play a vital role in successful surrogacy arrangements. Both the commissioning couple and surrogate (and the surrogate’s partner if she has one) are required to undergo a number of tests. These include detailed infection screens for HIV, Hepatitis and Syphilis. The surrogate will need to be checked to make sure she is immune to Rubella. If she is not, she will need to be vaccinated.
A genetic test maybe carried out on the egg and sperm providers including checking chromosomes (karyotype) and for common genetic conditions such as thalassemia if requested by the commissioning parents.
This means that any conditions that could be passed on to a child are identified before treatment has started and the implications can be discussed. This does not rule out genetic problems absolutely as rare things can occur that have not been specifically tested for because there is no test available.
Where can I go for advice and support?
The decision to proceed with surrogacy, finding the right surrogate for you, the fertility treatment and outcome followed hopefully by a subsequent pregnancy and delivery of a healthy child are all huge challenges. There will be lots of questions for you to think about at every step of the journey, and then as your child grows up there will be other considerations such as telling them about their organs.
CareIVF offers a dedicated and highly specialized counselling service that will provide care throughout your treatment and prepare you for the future. Counselling is free .We specifically require that all parties involved in a surrogacy arrangement undergo implications counselling to fully understand the implications of their actions and choices on all the people concerned.