Gestational Surrogacy - Using IVF and Having a Surrogate Mother Carry the Child for You
Page author Richard Sherbahn MD
What is surrogacy?
- Surrogacy involves using one woman's uterus to implant and carry the embryo and deliver the baby for another person or couple.
- It is most often done utilizing IVF - in vitro fertilization, but is sometimes done with intrauterine insemination.
- The woman that carries the pregnancy is called the surrogate, "surrogate mother" or "gestational carrier".
Who should be treated with gestational surrogacy?
- It is often done for a woman who has had her uterus removed but still has ovaries.
- She can provide the egg to make a baby, but has no womb to carry it.
- Using her eggs and in vitro fertilization technology, IVF, she can utilize a surrogate mother to carry the pregnancy (her own genetic child).
- A surrogate is also sometimes used for cases where a young woman has a medical condition that could result in serious health risks to the mother or the baby.
- It is also done sometimes in couples with recurrent IVF implantation failure.
How is gestational surrogacy performed?
- An appropriate surrogate is chosen and thoroughly screened for infectious diseases.
- Consents are signed by all parties. This is an important step in surrogacy cases. All potential issues need to be carefully clarified, put in writing and signed.
- The patient is stimulated for IVF with medications to develop multiple eggs.
- The surrogate is placed on medications that suppress her own menstrual cycle and stimulate development of a receptive uterine lining.
- When the patient's follicles are mature, an egg retrieval procedure is performed to remove eggs from her ovaries.
- The eggs are fertilized in the laboratory with her partner's sperm.
- The embryos develop in the laboratory for 3-5 days.
- Then, an embryo transfer procedure is done which places the embryos in the surrogate mother's uterus where they will hopefully implant.
- The surrogate delivers the baby.
- The baby goes home from the hospital with the "genetic parents".
- Success rates for surrogacy IVF procedures vary considerably.
- The age of the woman providing the eggs is one critical factor.
- In general, pregnancy rates are higher than with eggs from infertile women.
- Some programs are reporting delivery rates of over 50% per transfer for gestational surrogacy cases (using eggs from women under about age 37).