Surrogacy: The Basics

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Sarah Jessica Parker did it. Nicole Kidman did it too. Even Elton John was successful with it! You may be thinking…plastic surgery? Some crazy juice fast? A new exercise routine? Nope, we are referring to something else. The celebrities listed above have all chosen surrogacy, a third party reproduction option, to help them build their families.

Third party reproduction
If you have been trying to get pregnant and have been diagnosed with fertility problems, you may have already looked into third party reproduction options. Third party reproduction options include:

In this article, we'll discuss two surrogacy options: traditional and gestational.

Ask a fertility specialist about surrogacy options

Traditional surrogacy
In a traditional surrogacy arrangement, an individual or couple identifies a woman to be their carrier. She will become pregnant with sperm from the father-to-be, or a sperm donor, typically using artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). The woman's own egg is fertilized, and she will carry the pregnancy to term, and give birth to the child.

At birth, the child is handed to the intended parents. Since the child is genetically and biologically connected to the carrier, traditional surrogacy can be risky and requires thorough legal guidance.

Gestational carrier arrangements
In gestational carrier arrangements, a woman (the gestational carrier) becomes pregnant with embryos implanted after in vitro fertilization (IVF). The embryos are formed using the intended mother's eggs, or eggs from an egg donor, which are then fertilized by the father's sperm, or a donor's sperm. In this situation, the carrier has no genetic relation to the child.

You may want to go this route if you have healthy ovaries (and fertile eggs), but are not able to carry a pregnancy to term. You may choose a friend or relative to be your carrier, or you may work with an agency to identify one.

Take your time with surrogacy
As you can see, there are several options to consider when choosing surrogacy, including whether you use your own eggs and sperm or donor eggs and sperm. If you choose surrogacy, keep in mind the following challenges that you may face:

  • Surrogate carriers, like all women, can miscarry.
  • It may take several attempts of IVF or artificial insemination before a pregnancy occurs.
  • Almost half of all gestational carriers give birth to multiples.

In addition, emotions often run high with surrogacy. Different people with many ideas and opinions are involved, including fertility doctors, legal counsel, the intended parent(s), the carrier, counselors, psychologists, and more.

If you have fertility problems and are choosing surrogacy, take care to review your situation with an attorney experienced with surrogacy. Working with an agency, or seeking professional guidance, may help you avoid many complications and problems.

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