Surrogacy is a variation of egg donation where the "egg donor" is the patient herself, and the "recipient" is the gestational carrier or surrogate who provides the embryos with a uterus to develop in. The resulting baby is born to the surrogate but immediately received by the patient and her partner.
A gestational carrier is needed for women who cannot carry a pregnancy due to a "uterine factor" or a variety of other reasons. This includes women at risk due to underlying medical conditions, those with severe uterine adhesions not amenable to treatment, women who have had a hysterectomy, as well as women with recurrent pregnancy losses.
While egg donation is usually anonymous, surrogacy is an "open procedure" in which the surrogate and the couple know each other.
Summary of Medical Procedures for Surrogacy
- Surrogates undergo a preliminary screening by an agency prior to inclusion in the surrogate pool (usually including a detailed history, physical exam, discussion of medical, social, emotional, financial and legal aspects of surrogacy).
- The patient picks a specific surrogate. A large selection of surrogates is available through various agencies. A patient may also choose a surrogate who is known to her (such as a friend or a family member).
- A second round of extensive, detailed screening of the surrogate occurs (including genetic, psychological, and physical evaluations as appropriate).
- Simultaneous ovarian stimulation of the patient and uterine preparation of the surrogate. Injectable medications are used to stimulate the development of multiple eggs from the patient, while a combination of injectable and oral medications are used to prepare the endometrium of the surrogate for the implantation of embryos.
- Egg retrieval from the patient. Using a simple, ultrasound-guided, minimally invasive procedure, eggs are retrieved from the ovaries. This is performed under conscious sedation (twilight sleep), transvaginally, with a needle. There are no incisions in this outpatient procedure.
- Fertilization of the eggs with the partner's sperm in-vitro (in the laboratory)
- Embryo(s) are transferred into the surrogate.
- Cryopreservation (freezing) of any remaining, good-quality embryos is performed when available.
Contact Information for Surrogacy Program
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The option of surrogacy is more commonly sought now than ever before and the specialists at the Center for Fertility and Gynecology can help you through every step.