What Is Gestational Surrogacy?
Gestational surrogacy is a treatment option for hopeful parents struggling with infertility. A surrogate, also called a gestational carrier, is a healthy woman who agrees to carry a pregnancy for the intended parents.
This type of treatment involves a cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to create viable embryos, using sperm and eggs from the intended parents or a donor. Embryos are then placed into the surrogate’s uterus to begin a pregnancy. A successful pregnancy can be detected as soon as 6 weeks after embryo placement. Many surrogates go on to carry a pregnancy to full term, and experience normal delivery.
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When Should I Consider Gestational Surrogacy?
Gestational surrogacy may be recommended as an option for individuals who have experienced barriers to pregnancy, including:
- Women without a functioning uterus.
- Women with health conditions that would cause them or their baby to be at risk if they became pregnant.
- Women with uterine problems that cause infertility and can’t be treated, such as fibroids, scarring of the uterine cavity, or other conditions in which the uterus is unsuitable for pregnancy.
- Women who have a history of recurrent pregnancy loss.
- Same-sex male couples or single male parents.
How Long Is the Gestational Surrogacy Process?
The gestational surrogacy process can take months or years to complete. You and your doctor will discuss ideal treatment outcomes to determine an appropriate timeline.
Factors that may influence the length of the process include:
- how your body responds to the IVF;
- the health and quality of your embryos;
- selection of egg, sperm, or embryo donors; and
- selection of a gestational surrogate.
What Are the Steps of Gestational Surrogacy?
You can begin the surrogacy process at any time, even before you’ve selected a surrogate.
At the Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine, the first step in any fertility process is a consultation with a fertility specialist. At this appointment, you and your physician will discuss:
- Your medical and fertility history.
- The process of finding a gestational carrier.
- What screenings and tests are needed to develop your treatment plan.
You may also meet with a financial coordinator to talk about the payment options that will work best for you.
After you complete the necessary tests, you’ll meet with your doctor to talk about the results and work together to create a treatment plan. Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you have about your test results and describe treatment options in detail.
Depending on your medical condition, eggs and sperm will either be donated by the intended parents or by donors. Fertilization of the eggs by the sperm will occur in a controlled environment to produce embryos. You and your doctor will discuss treatment options and create a fertility plan that’s right for you.
Based on your, or you and your partner’s medical condition, your doctor may recommend the following options to provide embryos for your surrogate:
Your gestational surrogate undergoes a screening process to make sure she is physically and emotionally healthy before beginning treatment. After necessary testing, your surrogate will prepare to receive your embryos through a combination of oral and injectable medications.
The ideal surrogate meets the following guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM):
- Is a healthy woman between the ages of 21 and 42.
- Has a history of normal pregnancy and full-term delivery without complications.
- Has not had more than two caesarean section deliveries in the past.
We also recommend surrogates have a healthy body mass index (preferably less than 27), and maintain healthy lifestyle habits. These habits include:
- Moderate diet and exercise.
- Avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use.
How Much Does Gestational Surrogacy Cost?
Total costs vary, depending on whether you and your partner have insurance coverage for testing and medications. You will meet with a financial coordinator at the time of your initial visit for a complete review of the fee schedule.
Resources for UCRM Patients
The process of gestational surrogacy can be an emotional and stressful time for both intended parents and surrogates. As part of the process, parents and surrogates are asked to meet with a clinical psychologist to discuss the challenges and feelings they may experience.
You may have a psychologist you are already working with, and depending on insurance coverage, you may be able to get counseling through your regular psychologist. We recommend Laura Czajkowski, PhD. As a professional in this field, she has worked with the Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine since 1987 providing emotional support and guidance to our patients
The surrogacy process requires you and your gestational surrogate to enter into a binding legal agreement to establish rights and personal specifics. Gestational surrogacy can be complicated, so we require parents choosing a gestational carrier to provide a validated contract to UCRM before beginning treatment for your surrogate.
Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine recommends patients work with lawyers who have experience in reproductive law.
We are happy to work with your lawyer if you already have one. If not, we recommend the following resources:
Attorney at Law
Lauren R. Barros
Attorney at Law
Hear From Our Patients
Nicholas Rupp and his husband Michael always wanted to have children of their own. They considered adoption or becoming foster parents, but neither seemed like the right choice for them. That left egg donation and gestational surrogacy. However, many fertility clinics they contacted didn't seem to understand their specific needs as a same-sex couple who wanted a family.
After meeting with fertility specialists at Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine (UCRM), they were finally able to get the family of their dreams.