If a medical reason prevents a woman from carrying a pregnancy to term, motherhood may still be possible thanks to the generosity of women who are willing to carry a fetus that is not their own. The woman carrying the pregnancy is referred to as the gestational carrier, or sometimes as the gestational surrogate.
A gestational carrier agreement is an arrangement in which a woman gets pregnant with and gives birth to a child for another person or couple. After the surrogate delivers, the baby goes home with the intended parents.
When is Surrogacy Considered?
Surrogacy with a gestational carrier allows otherwise infertile couples to become parents. Surrogates also allow gay couples to have their own biological children by using the same assisted reproductive technologies that help infertile heterosexual couples. For gay male couples, family building requires IVF along with a donor egg and a gestational carrier.
A surrogate is used when there is either no female partner present, or when the female partner is unable to carry a baby to term. This condition may occur when the woman:
- Has a medical condition that would make a pregnancy risky
- Has uterine abnormalities that prevent her from getting pregnant or staying pregnant
- Does not have a uterus
- Has immunological abnormalities that cause her to repeatedly miscarry
- Has had repeated implantation failure when using IVF to get pregnant
The Surrogacy Process
The surrogacy process uses in vitro fertilization (IVF) to make the carrier pregnant. Eggs harvested from either the female partner or the egg donor are fertilized with the male partner’s sperm (or donor sperm) in the laboratory, and then healthy embryos are transferred into the uterus of the gestational carrier. With good quality eggs and sperm, the success rate for using surrogacy is high.
Using guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the gestational carrier is given a thorough psychological evaluation, a physician evaluation, a uterine evaluation, and a check of her overall health. The surrogate is screened to make sure she does not use alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. The screened carrier is then carefully matched with patients.
Contact our Denver office at (303) 321-7115 if you have questions about using a gestational carrier to help you have a baby.