What is surrogacy?
If the IVF procedure fails to result in a pregnancy, surrogacy becomes the next option. In surrogacy, the fertilized eggs are placed in another woman, known as the surrogate, who agrees to carry the pregnancy and give birth to the baby for the intended parents.
The surrogate is not biologically related to the child and surrogacy involves many complex financial, emotional, and legal factors. The average success rate of surrogacy is 75-80%, however, fertility clinics have a success rate of 85% due to their team of knowledgeable fertility specialists who understand the importance of helping couples achieve parenthood. (1)
What is IVF?
IVF stands for In vitro fertilization and it is a method where a couple’s reproductive cells are combined in a laboratory setting instead of inside the body. The woman takes hormonal medication to stimulate egg production and when a sufficient number of mature eggs are produced, they are collected and mixed with the sperm in a test tube. After a few days of monitoring, the doctor selects some of the fertilized eggs and places them in the uterus.
The effectiveness of IVF treatment decreases as a patient gets older, and the success rate of IVF is affected by’ female age. If you are over 35 years old, your doctor may suggest using donor eggs, while if you are under 35 years old, IVF has a success rate of 70-80%. (2)
What are the types of surrogacy?
Traditional surrogacy involves having the surrogate act as both the carrier and the egg donor, making her the biological mother of the child. It has the advantage of requiring fewer medical procedures, as it can often be done through intrauterine insemination (IUI) instead of IVF.
However, it can also be emotionally challenging for both the surrogate and the parents, as the surrogate is the genetic mother, and it can be difficult for her to give up the child. Additionally, traditional surrogacy can be more complicated legally, and may be difficult to find a willing surrogate, as some states do not allow it and it is not as commonly used.
Gestational surrogacy is a type of surrogacy where the surrogate has no genetic link to the child. The intended mother’s eggs or donor eggs are fertilized through IVF and embryos are transferred to the surrogate mother. The biggest drawback of gestational surrogacy is that it involves multiple medical procedures, which increases the risk and cost of treatment.
The benefits of gestational surrogacy include the emotional aspect of treatment, as it is easier for people to undergo surrogacy when there is no genetic link between the child and the carrier. Establishing parentage before the birth of the baby can also make the experience less stressful for everyone involved.(3)
It can be difficult to decide between gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. Patients can consider the following questions to determine which option is best for them:
- Can either my partner or I provide the eggs for my surrogate?
- Am I okay with the surrogate being the biological mother of my baby?
- What kind of relationship do I want with my surrogate?
- Can I afford the cost of gestational surrogacy?
- Is traditional surrogacy legal in my state? (4)
What is the difference between IVF and surrogacy?
There is not a significant distinction between IVF and surrogacy if gametes used belong to you and your partner . The main difference is that one (IVF) has emotional complexities and involves the mother-to-be and the father-to be while the other (surrogacy) has financial and legal complexities and involves the future parents, the surrogate mother and sometimes a donor.
The procedure recommended to you will depend on your medical condition. It’s crucial to prepare yourself mentally, and financially, and to gather all the information before going through any procedure. Be patient and consult with your doctor to determine what is the best fit for you. (5)
Van Rijn-van Gelderen, L., Bos, H. W. M., Jorgensen, T. D., Ellis-Davies, K., Winstanley, A., Golombok, S., … & Lamb, M. E. (2018). Wellbeing of gay fathers with children born through surrogacy: a comparison with lesbian-mother families and heterosexual IVF parent families. Human Reproduction, 33(1), 101-108.